- Associated Press - Sunday, November 27, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Landowners in Williams County, whose property might be split if a proposed truck reliever route becomes reality northeast of Williston, are worried about how disruptive the thoroughfare will be for farming and ranching operations.

Few details are available to landowners because an environmental study of the proposed area has yet to be completed, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/2gfkOBe ) reported.

Williams County and Williston officials are considering two possible routes, both of which connect U.S. Highway 2 to Highway 1804 by cutting through Stony Creek and Pherrin townships.

Williams County commissioners declined to choose either of the 10-mile routes in September, instead opting to hear from residents first.

The lack of a decision prompted the North Dakota Department of Transportation to stop the environmental assessment, leaving the proposal in limbo.

The department has asked local officials to choose a route and preserve it for 10 years by prohibiting development along the corridor so that the environmental study can be completed.

“We’re going to discuss where we’re going forward with this,” Fargo-based project consultant Jennifer Hanley told residents. “We need to take the comments you’re providing and take a look at this. Our studies are nearly complete … but without having a preferred (route), we can’t complete it.”

The study has so far cost about $5 million. Hanley said while there is money set aside to fund the road’s construction, it is now estimated to cost between $55 and $60 million.

Some landowners’ concerns included the lack of project information, potentially moving cattle, the necessity of an alternate route and not having their concerns taken seriously.

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