Around the turn of the century, as the automobile grew in popularity and importance, Glidden tours were established. These were long-distance reliability runs for automobiles. The last of those tours came in July of 1913, with a route that passed through North Dakota on the way from Minneapolis to Glacier Park in Montana.

Highway funding option: 'Property Tax'

Jun 8, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The chief financial officer of the North Dakota Department of Transportation told a Legislative interim committee transportation funding is recovering from the economic downturn in the oil and agriculture industries.

"In fact, we are slightly ahead of projections," Shannon Sauer told the interim Government Services Committee.

The projection for the 2019-2021 biennium is $1.29 billion in total transportation revenue. That’s up from $1.27 billion in the current two year period.

But federal highway funding is remaining flat.

As the President and Congress discuss a new infrastructure plan, it appears the funding formula may change in terms of federal highway dollars.

It used to be that 80 percent would come from the feds, and 20 percent would be a state match. Now what’s being talked about is 80 percent from state and local sources, including public-private partnerships, with 20 percent being the federal share.

"I actually, at some level, welcome that," said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. "That gives us more local decision-making, and it can free us from federal regulations."

It's road construction season

May 4, 2018

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will spend between $350 million and $400 million during the summer road construction season.

"It's pretty significant," said DOT office of operations director Wayde Swenson. "It's not like the last few years, where we were in the heyday of the oil boom. But it's still a significant amount of money being spent this summer."


This year’s road construction season in North Dakota is a little less busy that it has been during the oil boom years.

"With the one-time funding, the surge bills of previous sessions, those were record-setting times," said Association of General Contractors of North Dakota executive vice-president Russ Hanson. "With the slowdown in the economy, the Legislature simply couldn't afford to continue that."

Hanson said the budget for roads this year is around $470 million – down from the $600 to $800 million of the boom years.

Road construction season going well in ND

Aug 7, 2015

This year's road construction season is proceeding well.

"Right now, were sitting at about 20 percent of the work done," said North Dakota Department of Transportation Operations Director Wade Swenson. "Last year, we were at 19 percent, and the year before we were at 17 percent."

Swenson says a lot of the big-dollar construction happens closer to the end of the season.

"We definitely need a good late fall to get these projects completed," said Swenson. "That's where a lot of our paving and items that are high dollar happen."

Senator Heidi Heitkamp says transportation funding will be a big issue for Congress over the next several months.

Congress has passed a temporary authorization to spend money from the highway trust fund. But Heitkamp says that doesn’t solve the problem.

"My frustration is, we keep kicking the can down the road, because no one wants to face the reality that we continue to see a decline in the highway trust fund," said Heitkamp. "With declining values of gasoline, and with higher mileage vehicles, we have less and less money in the trust fund."

Two Grand Forks bridges to be repaired or replaced

Dec 27, 2013

North Dakota and Minnesota transportation officials are studying what needs to be done to two Grand Forks bridges that span the Red River.

Chad Orn is an assistant program engineer with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He says the bridges in question are the Kennedy bridge on US Highway Two – and the Sorlie bridge downtown.

"The bridges are deteriorating," said Orn. "They (MN and ND DOT) have to determine whether they can be rehabbed or replaced, or whatever needs to be done."