North Dakota has some of the finest highways I’ve ever ridden. Here’s why — it’s constantly construction season. The state has enough people who are spread out across a large region that a network of good roads is essential to safely move people and goods. The North Dakota Department of Transportation is second to none for its work at keeping up the road system. Under-staffed and under-funded the hard-core work ethic of North Dakotans carries the state’s DOT when in other states the road system would be bankrupts. It’s not the legislature, the executive branch or management that makes North Dakota’s roads what they are — it’s the men and women who give all they have well beyond what they are paid for, to keep up the road system
North Dakota is the first state to complete the Interstate system border to border, some 600 miles of four-lane roads intersecting at Fargo give travelers a safe route across the state. But because North Dakota’s Interstate system is as old as it gets and because it is subjected to extreme freeze-thaw cycles expanding and contracting the pavement and bridges, the system is in constant state of replacement.
This project is at the Missouri River crossing, Grant Marsh Bridge on I-94 between Bismarck and Mandan. Farther west in Mandan, more work squeezes traffic down to one lane in both directions. Barrels like this are common sites, and I’m sure travelers groan when they see the yellow markers ahead, but they can be sure that when they come back next year, this section will be smooth sailing.
I’m fascinated by the work that is done, each nut turned on a guard rail to each bucket of dirt moved is just one element of what combined is a huge task of giving travelers a road they won’t even notice because it seems all they really notice is when the road is rough, or under construction.