The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has stopped installing delineators in order to come up with a design change that will accommodate wider equipment on those highways. This comes after farmers complained that they could not transport equipment, and actually made the road less safe.
Sen. Janne Myrdal said she started hearing from fellow farmers in northeastern North Dakota a few weeks ago when combines and beet pickers began hitting the roads for harvest.
“It was almost like civil unrest up here, to be honest with you,” Myrdal said.
NDDOT announced in March it would install the reflective posts along 50% of state highways, including more than 300 miles of highway within tribal boundaries.
The $4.2 million project would be paid for primarily with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
It’s not known yet how these design changes will affect the cost of the project, NDDOT said.
The posts are already in place on all four-lane highways in the state and on the entire interstate highway system.
“It’s not uncommon to pause, reassess and implement design changes when new information becomes available,” said outgoing NDDOT Director Bill Panos, in a statement before leaving the position. “We are committed to making highways safe for all users.”
As part of the state’s Vision Zero plan to reduce deadly and serious injury crashes, the aim of the reflective posts is to guide and provide additional visual cues to drivers, especially at night.
Research has shown that on rural two-lane roadways, crashes resulting from drivers leaving their lane are reduced on average 15% after delineators are installed, NDDOT said.
NDDOT spokesman David Finley said the focus now will be on ensuring at least a 28-foot clearance between a highway’s centerline and a delineator post, to accommodate wider equipment.
The project is expected to continue next spring with a new design, according to NDDOT.