KILLDEER — Killdeer is soon to get some relief from heavy oil traffic grinding up and down its main street, which is also N.D. Highway 22.
The street is a fairly steep hill with restaurants, a post office, bank and drug store businesses back and forth on either side. A busy school yard perched at the top adds to the general precariousness.
Killdeer Mayor Chuck Muscha said it can get a little hairy out there. He’s seen semis back up in traffic and slide backward on the main street.
With the mix of school kids on top of the hill and residents trying to cross downtown, he said, it’s hard to know how much longer the town’s luck will hold.
“We’ve had a lot of close calls. We’ve been very fortunate,” he said.
Hopefully, the worst will soon be over. The North Dakota Department of Transportation will hold a hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Killdeer City Hall to go over details of a N.D. 22 bypass project and get public comments.
The plan is to divert traffic around town in a north-south direction, linking N.D. highways 22 and 200. Two alternatives are still in play: one on the east side of Killdeer, and a shorter project around the west side. Construction is scheduled for next year.
Bypasses are becoming a common, though very expensive, solution for oil patch communities to get all but locally bound traffic around town and out of harm’s way.
Killdeer has had to patiently wait its turn, behind bypasses at Williston, Watford City, Alexander, Dickinson and New Town.
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“Everything just takes time,” the mayor said. “We just want it to happen.”
Muscha said he expects reduced traffic won’t severely affect in-town businesses. “Those who want to come in, still will. But others, if they can stay out of town to avoid the hill, will do that. There should be no impact, other than removing some of the traffic,” he said.
Jody Doe owns the Killdeer Pharmacy in a historic brick building on the main street corner.
He watched one of those backward sliding trucks come close to hitting the side of his building, in one of those “whew!” moments, and feels his building literally shake as the 18-wheelers go thumping past.
“The bypass is a good thing. It will also divert traffic around the businesses, so you have to be careful what you wish for. But with these trucks going by the school, it has to happen,” Doe said.
These are times of change for Killdeer, which recently observed its centennial.
There are two new motels in town and two more are in discussion stages. Two new apartment complexes are going up and raw subdivisions on the east and north side of town will make room for single-family housing.
The Killdeer Public School has four modular classrooms for high school classes sitting in a parking lot that need to be hooked up and ready to go by Aug. 19 and the city is looking at options for an enclosed swimming pool center.
These are all signs of progress in town, though as Doe said, the boom has caused some customers he’s had for decades to pack up and move on.
Like anything, including the bypass, “It’s not going to make everybody happy, but nothing does,” the mayor said.
Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or email@example.com.