Image source: N.D. Department of Transportation project site
The Lewis and Clark Bridge on U.S. Hwy. 85, south of Williston, N.D., greeted the month of September by opening to traffic.
“[The] opening of the Lewis and Clark Bridge marks a major milestone in the history of North Dakota's transportation system,” Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said. “This bridge is a big part of the state's investment in western North Dakota to provide essential transportation for the safety of the traveling public and for the state's economy.”
The bridge, which crosses the Missouri River, is part of a U.S. Hwy. 85 four-lane expansion, which, along with the bridge, includes two bypasses and 60 miles of highway from Watford City to Williston.
“U.S. 85 is an essential highway in western North Dakota for the energy industry,” said Tom Sorel, director of the NDDOT. “This bridge is a major thoroughfare for traffic with approximately 10,000 vehicles a day utilizing the Lewis and Clark Bridge.”
The $80 million project replaces the former two-lane bridge originally built in 1973. In addition to reconstructing the roadway leading up to the bridge, a wildlife crossing for moose was established south of the bridge—another first for North Dakota.
The steel girder bridge will have four, 12-ft driving lanes with a median in the center. The new bridge will accommodate larger, wider truck loads than was previously capable on the old bridge.
Johnson Bros. Construction located in Texas was the prime contractor for the project.
Currently, the bridge is open to two lanes of traffic. Contractors will work for the next year to dismantle and remove the old bridge. Motorists will see final construction elements of the project taking places as contractors continue to work on final phases of the project.