North Dakota DOT Re-Opens Roadway Ravaged by Landslides Weeks Ahead of Schedule

AASHTO Journal, 27 July 2012

The North Dakota Department of Transportation was able to repair the extensive damage done to well-traveled Highway 22 by a landslide more than a month ahead of schedule, saving motorists from an additional six weeks of excruciatingly long detours.

State Highway 22 winds through the badlands of the state and serves as a major connection route for the oil and energy industry. When landslides ripped through a portion of Highway 22 in May 2011, drivers were forced to take substantial detours that required them to travel an extra 20 to 50 miles. These detours were not only inconvenient, but costly, as NDDOT calculated the total additional user cost per day that the road was closed totaled $61,191.

NDDOT sent a team of experts to conduct an on-site evaluation. These experts came up with an emergency repair plan that began in June, which would initially build a temporary bypass near the roadway to allow traffic to move through the area until the permanent repair work was finished on the highway.

However, a second landslide in July changed the plans entirely. NDDOT crews re-evaluated the site and decided to realign a half-mile segment of the highway to move a section of the road. This was a challenging task due to location and wet conditions, but NDDOT scheduled completion of the project for Dec. 15. It would complete a gravel road and tackle the paved surface once winter was over.

By utilizing an early completion incentive with Martin Construction, NDDOT moved 600,000 cubic yards of dirt and build the new roadway in an extremely short period of time. The $2 million project was opened to traffic on Nov. 9, 2011, roughly six weeks ahead of schedule. This early completion allowed NDDOT to not only finish the gravel road, but also add a paved surface for drivers well before spring. The early completion also saved drivers from having to take those long detours, which translated into a $2.5 million savings in additional user travel costs.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials features a Project of the Week in each edition of the AASHTO Journal to highlight excellent state transportation department projects that are completed on time, under budget, and/or using innovative management. To nominate a completed project that meets these criteria, please e-mail editor AT Previous Project of the Week selections are available at

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