Bismarck News

Wilton Residents Say Highway 36 'Accident' Waiting to Happen

Bismarck - Wilton residents are raising alarms about Highway 36.

With heavy truck traffic residents are saying the road is too narrow and the shoulder too steep.

Driving for more than 40 years, Ben Schafer says Highway 36 isn't an easy ride.

"It's a place that is waiting for life threatening accidents to happen," Ben Schafer, school bus driver says.

One night, Schafer, driving a bus full of kids, had a close encounter with a semi.

"He dropped his wheels off the edge of the road. His truck was all over the place and my heart did some serious thumping because when he pulled it out he was headed right at us," Schafer says.

Wilton residents say the highway has become a big problem and their daily commute is far from worry free.

"The road's surface it's literally a battle to hold [the wheels] there or pull [the car] back on the road," Schafer says.

James Meyer, a local farmer, says he makes up to seven trips a day down the road in his semi.

"You're absolutely afraid to get over on that shoulder because it will grab you and take you for a ride," James Meyer, Wilton farmer and rancher says.

He says the narrow road, high truck traffic, and a low shoulder are a dangerous combination.

Wilton residents say it's not if an accident will happen on Highway 36 it's when.

"[I] just get nervous about it. Someone's going to get killed on this road," Meyer says.

So he's taking action calling the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

"Any road that has trucks going up and down it with oversized loads, it should have a safe shoulder so vehicles can move over," Meyer says.

The Burleigh County Sheriff's Department says during the oil boom surveys were done on highways like 36, and though it meets the minimum standards for two lane highways, added truck traffic on two lanes are a concern.

"They are still narrower than the interstate and what people are used to driving with truck traffic," Pat Heinert, Burleigh County Sheriff's Department says.

Heinert says he wasn't made aware of any recent serious crashes or concerns. 

"It'll force me to get up there either this afternoon or tomorrow and take a closer look," Heinert says.

A look Schafer says can't come soon enough.

"My experience is not the only one, there are many. I think something should be done about it," Schafer.

To make sure a trip on Highway 36 is a safe one.

We reached out the North Dakota Department of Transportation for comment they say the department prioritizes projects based on the condition of the roadway and availability of funding.


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