- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ALEXANDER, N.D. (AP) - For the first time in a long time, the main street in the North Dakota oil patch community of Alexander is quiet.

Oil field traffic would pack the no-stoplight town just a few weeks ago between Williston and Watford City, with 13,000 vehicles a day creeping through. Now, with a 3.8-mile highway bypass completed, the nonstop flow of trucks doesn’t clog Alexander’s streets like it did.

On Tuesday, state and local officials gathered in the town to celebrate the opening of the $28 million bypass and additional bypasses around Watford City to the east.



Combined with a partially completed project to expand U.S. Highway 85 to four lanes, the state has finished $200 million in work on the route between Williston and Watford City. An additional $209 million in state funds has been invested in building truck reliever routes around Williston, New Town and Dickinson.

Western North Dakota’s oil boom has brought high-paying jobs and a lot of investment to the area in recent years, but it’s also caused an increase in traffic that has taken a toll on roads and proven to be a nuisance for communities.

“All these big investments are great,” North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “But in the end it’s about quality of life for communities.”

With a population of just 223 in the 2010 census, Alexander was an extremely quiet town before the oil boom brought truck traffic through its center.

“I didn’t notice how loud (the traffic) was until they opened the bypass,” said Jodi Stover, who owns the store Comet Country Convenience.

While the disappearance of traffic jams in front of her store has slowed the number of customers in the early morning hours, Stover said overall business has not been hurt too much.

Tobacco shop owner Phil Hamda said having Alexander’s main street back to being mostly traffic-free should make it easier for customers to access his store. The Brooklyn, New York, native said the constant traffic would often dissuade would-be customers from pulling off the road to shop at his business for fear they might have trouble merging back into the crowd of vehicles.

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