As winter approaches, road work winds down in ND

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Winter is coming, which means road work is winding down.

Across the state, the Department of Transportation says it was able to complete several big road construction projects, such as the Killdeer and Dickinson bypasses as well as Highway 23 in Minot. In Bismarck, the N Washington St. construction is almost done.

A Northern Improvement crew has been working on getting North Washington St. into drivable condition all year, and now it's finally almost ready.

"When you start seeing more and more concrete go in and you start seeing sidewalks go in and the big thing is the landscaping. When you start seeing that actually start to take form, it's fulfilling," said Dan Shockley, Northern Improvement foreman.

The state is maintaining the roads to the tune of $560 million. It's spent about 70 percent of that money already, about 10 percent ahead of the same time in previous years.

"We'll never get to 100 percent. Obviously we've got projects we bid that are two-year projects so we never quite get to that 100 percent, but we usually settle in around that 80-90 percent around the end of the year," said Wayde Swenson, ND DOT office operations director.

A mild spring allowed construction crews to get about a month's jump on previous years, and in North Dakota, every day you can work is valuable.

"Time. Time. We live in North Dakota. We only have a small window to get these large projects done. Any extra day or week, or in our case a month, you can get is great," said Shockley.

"Mother Nature will pretty much dictate when our contractors stop. Obviously temperatures will be an indication of when they can and can't go. Typically, you get into November, that's probably borrowed time," said Wayde Swenson, ND DOT office operations director.

Swenson says increased traffic because of oil development is still affecting the state, but his department is doing everything it can to keep the roads safe.

Road costs have dropped drastically in the past several years. In 2014, the state bid out $750 million worth of projects and last year it bid out about $600 million. Next year, the cost will drop to between $400 million and $500 million.