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NDDOT hits the brakes on north Bismarck roundabout project
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NDDOT hits the brakes on north Bismarck roundabout project

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The construction of a roundabout in north Bismarck, at the intersection of North Washington Street and North Dakota Highway 1804, may be canceled after the North Dakota Department of Transportation hit the brakes on the project, citing safety issues.

In February, the Burleigh County Commission approved the $2.5 million project, which is a joint undertaking of the county and the NDDOT. Since that time, the two entities have been working together to approve the final design, which is due July 23 to allow for a November bid letting on the project.

“We knew this was a tight schedule all along so we’ve been working very closely with the DOT on making sure everybody was together,” said Marcus Hall, county engineer.

“The DOT engineers had four chances to voice their concerns on this particular project. We did the extra step and we had a kickoff meeting on this particular project, where we went up to the DOT and we met with them, and stated this is what we planned on doing and if they had a problem, please let us know,” he added.

According to Hall, a NDDOT engineer sent out an email Friday, stating that he was “totally opposed” to the project and the way it was being put together.

The proposed roundabout includes right-turn slip lanes, according to Hall, which provide an additional point of interaction.

“The more points that we have like that, their feeling is the less safe that roundabout is,” he said.

Only one week remains until the final design is due, and Hall says it’s too late in the game to redesign the roundabout and allow for the fall bid opening.

“It’s very disconcerting. There’s no way we can make the plan changes by (next) Monday. This is teetering on not happening,” he said. “There are a couple of options being considered, and possibly we’ll be able to salvage this project.”

One of the options being considered is a February 2019 bid opening.

“It’s very frustrating, at the least,” said Commissioner Doug Schonert at Monday night’s county commission meeting.

“We know development is going to occur up in that area … we have development occurring right now,” said Hall. “We felt if we were a little bit ahead of the game and prepared for the future up in that area … that was a good thing.”

If the project moves forward, Burleigh County will be responsible for about 5 percent of the total construction cost of the roundabout, as well as $200,000 for the design work and $400,000 for construction administration.

(Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.)​

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