Rebuild, replace, or preserve the Long X Bridge

The North Dakota Department of Transportation might expand Highway 85,
but in order to make that happen, it might have to remove a historic structure.

Jesse Romanyshyn is the owner of Four Corners Cafe in Fairfield, which sits right along side of Highway 85, and he's not convinced expanding the road from two lanes to four lanes from Belfield to Watford City is a solution.

"I'm not sure. . .  since the oil died down it is entirely necessary.  If there were more turning lanes or an increase in law enforcement that might alleviate some of the concern people have for safety," said Romanyshyn.

In the middle of the Highway 85 Project is the Long X Bridge, and Romanyshyn feels that is an issue.

"A lot of people don't like it when it is out of order, and people have to add 300 to 400 miles on to their trip just to get from point A to point B," said Romanyshyn.

Matt Linneman, of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, said the Long X Bridge has been an issue for many truck drivers.

"It has been hit multiple times in the past. We have had major hits that have needed repair work. We have had to close a lane or close the bridge for work," said Linneman.

The DOT is currently exploring three options: One would be to rebuild the bridge by adding two lanes and raising the clearance from 16 to 20 feet. Another would be to demolish the bridge and build an entirely new four lane bridge. The last option would still build a new bridge, but the Long X would be preserved for historical purposes.

"The reason we are looking at all these alternatives is Long X is a historic bridge. It is eligible for the national register of historic places. It has some protections associated with it," said Linneman.

The cost of construction for the Long X Bridge Project ranges between $37 to $48 million and the DOT is currently seeking public feedback.

"Yep increase business, maybe better safety, but it doesn't get rid of the terrible drivers," said Romanyshyn.

Winter is coming and hopefully the Long X  Bridge can hold up a little longer.

The ND DOT is currently working on the Environmental Impact Reports and hosting public forums. They hope to make a decision on the Long X Bridge in the Fall of 2018.



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