City of Bismarck looking at turning two lane roads into three lanes

BISMARCK, N.D. - The City of Bismarck is looking at a project that would convert sections of four roads in town into three lanes from the current two lanes.

The idea is to move traffic more efficiently north and south, and lessen the number of crashes on North Washington, 4th, 19th and Divide. But many say the issue isn't with turning, but speeding.

Al Nagel has lived on West Divide Avenue for 46 years. He says he doesn't want parking taken away for bike lanes, because the current ones aren't used.

“I see out of my window they're never used,” Nagel said. “So why are we using street space for bike trails?”

He's one of dozens that turned out for a public input meeting on a possible three lane conversion project. The city's engineering department is looking at sections of North Washington, North 4th, 19th and Divide Avenue to possibly add a left turn lane. Alternatives include doing nothing, adding a left middle turn lane, adding the turn lane plus bike paths and adding a turn lane with parking on one side of the street.

“We need ways to improve north-south traffic and east-west traffic, and improve our bike facilities,” said Gabe Schell, Bismarck city engineer.

The project would be funded 90 percent by DOT dollars. But residents on Divide, 4th and 19th all said they don't believe the lack of a turn lane is what's causing issues.

“I see a lot of people speeding that leave the Washington Street light and they head west and they're 50 and 60 miles an hour,” Nagel said.

And he says a left turn lane would only allow people to keep up the high speeds.

Schell will make final recommendations to the city commission sometime this summer.

If any plans are approved, construction would happen in 2019.