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Letter to the editor: Exit 257 should be retained at Jamestown

Thanks to reporter Chris Olson for making us aware of the plans to close Exit 257. For those who travel west from Jamestown, this is our main exit/ entrance and something we need to save.

It is true there are safety issues with this bridge. If accident records were reviewed they would likely show the main safety problem with this bridge is that it is lower than others in the area and therefore on occasion struck by westbound trucks. This has been happening for many, many years. It does not appear the North Dakota Department of Transportation has taken any action to warn westbound motorists of this potential hazard or of the necessity of overheight vehicles to exit at Exit 258 and follow 17th Street Southwest back onto the interstate.

Please consider the difference in width between the north and southbound lanes at Exit 257 versus Exits 256 or 258.

Think for a moment how long a bridge would have to be to span the east and westbound lanes of Interstate 94 at the current Exit 257 location. The city of Jamestown does not have extra millions of dollars to pay for such foolishness.

The flawed Jamestown long-range Land Use and Transportation Plan mentioned a bridge over the interstate in this location. Another unrealistic component is an overpass at 3rd Street and 12th Avenue Southeast. If we ever have extra millions of dollars they can be more wisely spent.

There should be lights at Exit 258. This is a separate issue from Exit 257.

The new argument as to the danger of this left exit at Exit 257 comes from added traffic from Jamestown Regional Medical Center at Exit 256. If this is a safety concern it would seem there are at least a couple of solutions. Any design flaw was not by the city and Jamestown taxpayers should not bear financial responsibility for correcting those flaws or lose a valuable exit.

One solution might be to add a third lane from Exit 256 to Exit 257 with a curb preventing vehicles entering I-94 at Exit 256 from exiting into Jamestown at Exit 257. Another would be a new overpass with a right exit at a cost of many millions of dollars, but not on the backs of Jamestown taxpayers. The alleged design flaws were by the state or federal highway departments and should be corrected at their expense, not ours.

This is a very important issue for our community. Speak up now by sending an email to James Rath at the NDDOT, email JRath@nd.gov. It is important you put the words “Public Input Meeting” in the subject of your email and that you submit by Jan. 19.

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