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It's not the first oil boom to hit North Dakota, but it's undoubtedly the biggest. North Dakota has quickly become one of the largest oil-producing states in the country. The Bakken has brought thousands of people to North Dakota and billions of dollars in state revenue. But it's also brought its share of headaches for those living in oil country. Home construction can't keep up with the rapid growth in population. Crimes, accidents and arrests are at an all-time high in western North Dakota. Small cities that were once off the grid are making national headlines as they face challenges they've never had to deal with before.
Clip: Pipelines hope to Relieve Traffic Congestion
The oil industry is working to reduce truck traffic by hauling more oil on pipelines and railroads.
On a stretch of highway connecting oil-activity hubs Stanley and New Town trucks rush by hauling valuable crude. On these once lonely stretches of pavement, it's a common sight around western North Dakota. Even those charged with keeping the traveling public safe say the jump in traffic takes some getting used to.
"I never thought it would get to this point. I've been on the Highway Patrol for 26 years and it's a different- a whole different area compared to traffic patterns even five years ago. Things have changed," said Cpt. Gary Orluck with the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Orluck says more crowded highways mean more accidents. "The more trucks out there and the potential for more people to be driving in a trucks blind spot. Yes, it does increase the chances of a traffic crash or an incident occuring," Orluck said.
Many of the trucks he's talking about are hauling oil out of western North Dakota's booming Bakken oil play. Local and state leaders have said decreasing truck traffic will make roads safer and there is one type of company that says it can help.
"Shippers, customers can avoid trucking oil to Stanley by putting it in our pipe and safely transporting it via pipe to Stanley where it goes into the EOG train," said Mike Moeller, general manager of Enbridge Pipelines.
Enbridge Pipelines says it's almost doubled its capacity in North Dakota. Moeller says pipelines can reduce trucks on the road with help from trains.
"We're targeting having a truck receipt point every 25 to 30 miles on our system so while we may not eliminate trucks we will drastically reduce the distance that each truck travels with a load of oil to get it off, loaded into an Enbridge facility where then it can go to transportation either on a pipe or pipe to rail," Moeller said.
That's good news for Orluck who says busier roads could mean more tragedy. "And that's just a factor of increased numbers of vehicles. In the last thre years in the northwest region we've seen a higher increase, 62 fatalities in this region last year alone which means markedly higher than the other," Orluck said.
And as more cars and trucks roar through this part of the state, finding the balance between growth and quality of life will take time.
Since 2007 deaths on North Dakota highways have increased by 30 percent.