Written by John Plestina
After decades of off-and-on discussions about repairing and realigning Secondary Hwy. 327 in and near Bainville, the Roosevelt County Commissioners finally approved a Montana Department of Transportation memorandum of understanding Tuesday, April 15, that will allow the project to move forward.
The project will include paving, a bypass of Bainville and bridge replacement over Little Muddy Creek from U.S. Hwy. 2 to the North Dakota state line.
The commissioners delayed a decision Tuesday, April 1, in part because the full three-member commission wasn’t present.
With the MOU now signed, all phases of the project will be completed in one project with expected completion in 2017. If the county hadn’t signed the MOU, the project could have been done piecemeal and be spread out over far more than three years.
‘That was one of our concerns that they would try to split the project,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said.
“[The agreement with the MDT has] everything in there I wanted to see,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said.
Discussions during the April 1 commission meeting included that current and projected heavy truck traffic from the Bakken Oilfield has made the project urgent.
Highway 327, also known as the Bainville-Snowden Road, runs from the North Dakota state line southeast of Bainville into the town with access to U.S. Hwy. 2. The roadway also connects to a North Dakota state highway that goes to Williston, N.D.
Oasis Petroleum is planning to drill at least 50 new oil wells south of Bainville, according to Oasis spokesman Larry Skaare.
Bainville resident Wagner Harmon expressed concern about the current condition of the road and bridge and a projected increase in heavy truck traffic due to planned drilling during the April 1 meeting.