Technology

Medora commission picks preferred location for bridge

Posted March 17

— Billings County officials are considering a location to build a bridge across the Little Missouri River north of Medora.

Engineers recommended the Billings County Commission choose a location about 15 miles north of Medora based on an environmental impact study, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2nzulqf ) reported. KLJ Engineers, hired to conduct the study, will release a draft environmental document in about two months.

Jennifer Turnbow, of KLJ Engineers, said deciding on the location came down to minimizing environmental impacts.

The project would span over the river and cut through a family's ranch operation on the west side of the river.

Sandy Short, the family's spokeswoman, said the family has always accommodated the oil industry, but will defend the Badlands against any bridges and roads.

She said the family has waited for the County Commission to announce that the bridge wouldn't be built on private property.

"(Commission chairman) Jim Arthaud and the Billings County commissioners have the fight of their lives ahead of them if they plan on using eminent domain to put a bridge across our land," said Short.

The location was chosen from six other alternatives, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park's Elkhorn Ranch and the Little Missouri National Grassland's Elkhorn Ranchlands, which have since been removed from consideration.

Since 2012, study work for the second attempt to find a location for the project has cost $1.6 million.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft plan of the project once it's released. Those comments will help guide the final document, which will take an additional two to three months to write, Turnbow said.

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