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November 21, 2011 10:07 PM

Belle Fourche Traffic Result Of ND Oil Bonanza

Belle Fourche, SD


Highway 85 runs through the heart of Belle Fourche; it's also a major route to the North Dakota oil fields.

"We have seen a definite increase in traffic on Highway 85, especially in the traffic related to oil wells," DOT
Engineer Mike Carlson said.

That includes hundreds of oil workers and the equipment they'll need to drill.

"Currently, we have about a thousand vehicles traveling up north a day. Of those, nearly 300 are trucks," Carlson said.

Most other highways in the state only have trucks making up 10 to 15 percent of total traffic.

"We see a marked increase of traffic coming through Belle Fourche, a lot of truck traffic," Belle Fourche Police Chief Rob Hansen said.

Although the influx of travelers has led to a slight increase in calls for the police department, Hansen doesn't think the boom is bad for his community.

"It's definitely a positive thing. We enjoy people coming through Belle Fourche. We enjoy people spending time here," Hansen said.

After all, they're spending time and money in the town.

"All the oil rigs that have been coming up from Texas have come through here. They all need to fill," Mid America Travel Plaza Manager Julanne Hyatt said.

Hyatt claims that although fuel sales are up, diesel isn't the only thing she's been selling more of.

"They get a lot of junk food to get from here to there, so it all adds up; every bit helps, nowadays," Hyatt said.

"We're happy to accommodate any travelers who are coming through," Hansen said.

People in Belle Fourche shouldn't expect to see a decrease in traffic anytime soon, as oil production in North Dakota is showing no sign of slowing down.
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