Dangerous intersection discussion

Ward County commissioners have taken the first step toward addressing safety concerns where a Montana woman was killed recently in a major vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 & 52 and the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass.

Granted, the commissioners simply passed a resolution saying they will “address the dangerous intersection,” but it’s still a positive step. Commissioners called for an interchange to be constructed at the intersection, rather than the usual signaled design between major highways.

Commissioner Alan Walter cited figures showing a 57 percent increase in traffic on U.S. Highways 2 and 52 west of the intersection as well as a 67 percent spike in traffic heading north on the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass. Anyone who drives on those roads or through the intersection doesn’t need figures to tell them that traffic has increased dramatically in that area, and much of the increase is trucks. It has become a much more dangerous intersection in the past couple of years, and we agree that something needs to be done to make it safer.

But what?

The commissioners’ call for an interchange makes sense, but it also raises lots of questions. How big would an interchange be? What would happen to the homes in the small neighborhood next to the intersection? Who would pay to construct such a project? How long would it take? If an interchange isn’t realistic, what are the other options, and what would they cost?

If it does nothing else, the commissioners’ resolution will at least spur discussion of the dangers of the intersection and potential solutions. And having that discussion is necessary to start the process of making changes in that area that are necessary to insure the safety of drivers. We hope the commissioners don’t let this issue fade away anytime soon.