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Published January 09, 2013, 09:19 AM

County approves route for Williston truck bypass

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The Williams County Commission has approved a route for a truck bypass around the bustling North Dakota oil patch city of Williston that will avoid American Indian burial grounds and artifacts.

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The Williams County Commission has approved a route for a truck bypass around the bustling North Dakota oil patch city of Williston that will avoid American Indian burial grounds and artifacts.

The City Commission approved the route late last month. Neither city nor county leaders preferred it because it is longer and will affect more property owners, but "we all know that compromises have to be made," County Commission Chairman Dan Kalil told The Forum on Tuesday.

Crews last year completed a temporary bypass in the area to help route heavy oil field truck traffic around Williston and ease congestion in the city limits, but it is designed to last only three years. The preferred plan for a permanent bypass was hampered by what former state Transportation Director Francis Ziegler called an "unprecedented" discovery of American Indian cultural resources during a study that cost the state $1 million.

Leaders of the four American Indian tribes in the state asked that the preferred route be abandoned, and local and state officials have agreed.

The state Transportation Department will continue its environmental assessment and hold a public hearing in the spring, spokeswoman Jamie Olson said. Design for the permanent bypass is expected to be complete this summer or fall with construction beginning later this year, she said.

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