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Transportation Update July 2020

Ron Henke, deputy director for engineering, addresses the media at NDDOT's annual construction press conference May 21.

NDDOT begins 2020 construction season

NDDOT officially kicked off construction season in May with more than $400 million committed across the state.

Construction projects are underway, and crews are working with additional safety and cleaning protocols.

“We have been pushing our projects up and getting them started early as a way to help stimulate the economy,” said Bill Panos, NDDOT director. “At a time like this, we feel investing in our infrastructure is a great way to do that.”

Motorists can stay updated on state construction projects in several ways:

For more information on the 2020 construction season kick-off: https://www.dot.nd.gov/dotnet/news/Public/View/8698

A Motor Vehicle employee helps a customer during NDDOT's Smart Restart.

NDDOT Smart Restart underway

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has continued to provide many essential services to the public. During this time, our online Motor Vehicle and Driver License services have been available to our citizens.

The Department began taking appointments for Commercial Driver (CDL/H2A) written examinations and road tests on March 30.

Some services were even expanded to meet demand including online CDL renewals and drop boxes and scheduled appointments for motor vehicle title work.

NDDOT launched its Smart Restart program in May with prioritized services available by appointment, mail-in, on-line and through drop boxes. Services completed over the past two months (May 11-July 10):

  • 24,209 driver tests, license renewals, and duplicate licenses.
  • 181,906 motor vehicle transactions
  • 104,843 phone calls for services

Currently the Department is making great strides in addressing a backlog of drivers license renewals and Motor Vehicle Registrations which expired during the COVID emergency.

We will continue to assist customers as we move forward to the next phase of our new normal, we would like to remind citizens that many of their essential services are available online 24/7 without leaving the comfort of their home or office.

For more information about available services, please got to dot.nd.gov.

NDDOT Director elected vice president of WASHTO

Bill Panos

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Director Bill Panos was elected vice president of the Western Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (WASHTO). His term as vice president began July 1.

WASHTO membership includes departments of transportation from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Washington.

The purpose of WASHTO is to serve its member departments by:

  • promoting a closer relationship between its members
  • contributing to national policies on transportation issues that are responsive to members’ needs
  • advocating legislation that supports efficient and effective transportation systems, economic competitiveness, and the environmental integrity of member states
  • providing a forum for exchanging ideas, exploring and adapting techniques, promoting quality and best practices for implementation
  • working with the United States Department of Transportation and other governmental agencies.

The NDDOT maintains a safe, efficient transportation system consisting of approximately 8,622 miles of roadway and 1,722 bridges. It oversees the development of surface transportation including highways, bridges, transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths across the state.

Annually, the department processes more than one million vehicle registrations and serves over 500,000 licensed drivers at branch offices located throughout North Dakota.

The NDDOT is an innovative and progressive organization that has a team of employees working hard across the state to carry out the department’s mission to safely move people and goods.

Two elementary school students use an urban sidewalk to walk to school. Signs, Crosswalks, ADA ramps, paths, sidewalks, lighting and paths are all part of the Safe Routes to School Program by the NDDOT.

NDDOT awards $2 million in Transportation Alternatives funding

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Director Bill Panos announced today the award $2,018,090 of Transportation Alternatives (TA) funding for transportation improvement projects across the state.

The TA grants are made possible through a federally funded program and is administered by the NDDOT.

“This program plays a key role in increasing safety and promoting healthy lifestyles through active transportation alternatives, which make North Dakota a better place to live and work,” said Panos.

The NDDOT awards projects each year in local communities to encourage active modes of transportation. These projects include pedestrian and bicycle facilities, Safe Routes to School projects, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation projects.

Urban projects include:

  • Minot – Edison Elementary School Safe Routes to School – $290,000
  • Mandan – Old Red Trail Phase 2 – $168,237
  • Bismarck – Bismarck Public Schools Safety Improvement – $27,516
  • West Fargo – Drain 45 Multi-Use Path Phase 2 – $290,000
  • Williston – River and Park Accessibility Trail Connections – $74,860

Rural projects include:

  • Horace/Cass County – County Road 17 Shared Use Path – $186,260
  • Watford City/McKenzie County – 2nd Avenue SW Multi-Use Path – $200,000
  • Milnor/Sargent County – Safe Walk to School – $200,000
  • Linton/Emmons County – ADA Ramps & Sidewalk Corridor – $182,129
  • Beach/Golden Valley County – 3rd Street SW Multi-Use Trail – $200,000
  • Crosby/Divide County – Multi-Use Path – $199,088

For more information on NDDOT’s Transportation Alternatives program, please visit https://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/localgov/TA.htm#ta.

Emergency grade raise on ND Highway 46 west of Gackle.

NDDOT partners with NPUASTS to enhance emergency response

During spring flooding, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) worked together to provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to enhance emergency response to flooding across the state.

“This partnership is another great example of how our whole-of-government approach to natural disasters and other major events is enhancing services for North Dakota citizens,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “Harnessing this cutting-edge technology to improve flood preparation and response efforts shows again why North Dakota is the nation’s proving ground for UAS.”

The UAS (drone) flight operations provided photographs and videos to help NDDOT enhance emergency response to flooding.

“We are very excited for this partnership and what it means for our UAS program and the state of North Dakota,” said NDDOT Director Bill Panos. “This imagery provides us with valuable information and gives us a new prospective on flooding.”

NPUASTS utilized its own resources and local vendors to accomplish the emergency response efforts.

“The goal of the project is to use drones to provide key stakeholders the information they need make critical decisions in regard to the anticipated flooding,” said Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS. “This information can help make critical decisions in a timely manner like determining when a road may become impassable and also allowing roads to reopen sometimes days or even a week sooner than normal inspection methods.”

In May 2018, the United States Department of Transportation selected the NDDOT as one of 10 participants in the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program.

The latest partnership is part of an ongoing relationship with NPUASTS designed to provide operational efficiencies, create new opportunities, build industry to grow the economy and reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

The State of North Dakota is a leader in transportation and UAS advancement. The UAS Integration Pilot Program technology will continue to enhance North Dakota in many areas such as pipeline or infrastructure inspections, traffic crash reconstruction, and emergency response.

For more information on North Dakota’s UAS Integration Pilot Program visit our webpage at www.dot.nd.gov/uas/

NDDOT expands social media presence

NDDOT has expanded its social media presence by adding Instagram and Twitter to the list of platforms we are utilizing, while maintaining our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, as well.

These social media platforms make it easier for us to get information out quickly, while giving the citizens of North Dakota an opportunity to provide input and feedback that can help make the NDDOT a better agency overall.

Due to the audience of about 30,000 followers that we have amassed on Facebook, the NDDOT has now created accounts on Instagram and Twitter to further expand our reach. The accounts were made live in May with the handles @NorthDakotaDOT.

Our Instagram account has featured a variety of posts, from graphics informing customers about current events and updates at the NDDOT to historic photos for “Throwback Thursday.” In the short few weeks that the account has been active, it has gained 322 followers and it is growing quickly each day. There are plans to begin posting content about construction projects around the state, featuring photos provided by our on-site workers and photographers.

NDDOT’s Twitter account is a great tool to provide timely and concise updates to our following. The content consists of reminders about services provided during COVID-19, alerts about construction projects around the state that may impact our citizens commutes, and various other up-to-date news. We have also been working to share posts from Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Department of Health to ensure that their important messages are reaching the largest amount of people that they can.

These accounts are a vital tool to easily and efficiently keep the public in the loop while and sending messages that will inform them about NDDOT projects and programs.