Heavy traffic in Carrington: City gets business from Oil Patch, agriculture and other trafficThe Stop N’ Go here just north of the intersection of U.S. Highways 281 and 52 is a good barometer for the “Central City” in general.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
CARRINGTON, N.D. — The Stop N’ Go here just north of the intersection of U.S. Highways 281 and 52 is a good barometer for the “Central City” in general.
The oil boom coupled with agriculture and related industries have turned this small town of slightly more than 2,000 into a major North Dakota crossroads.
“With the flood in Minot last year, it was massive,” said Julie Kutz, Stop N’ Go general manager, of business at the gas station. “Now it’s hauling equipment to the oil fields.”
Everything that can fit on a semi — from houses to pipes to generators — now passes through here on the way to the Oil Patch. Many stop and fill up at the Stop N’ Go.
A typical early morning has anywhere from 120 to 200 semis filling up. During the day there is a constant line of trucks waiting for diesel.
“We are definitely one of the busiest corners in the state,” Kutz said. “People are patient with us. When there are 20 or 30 people in here, you can’t plan for that.”
Even though it just opened in late February, the Cobblestone Inn & Suites across the parking lot is already starting to fill up for the summer months.
“We’re definitely busy into the summer,” said Jane Sauby, general manager of the Cobblestone, which is Carrington’s newest hotel. “I’m telling people if they want to stay with us to book as soon as possible.”
Cobblestone clientele varies widely but Sauby said it’s a good indicator of who’s coming to town, whether it’s oil, construction, agriculture or just families passing through.
“If you ever just honestly sat in just Carrington for just an hour, it’s insane how many trucks and vehicles pass through there every single hour, every single day,” she said.
More and more trucks
Carrington Mayor Don Frye has seen traffic on his city’s roads steadily increase for the past six years. But with the Souris River flood last year and now the oil boom, traffic has taken off.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation doesn’t rank intersections for traffic in the state, said Jamie Olson, public information officer with the NDDOT.
However, the intersection by Stop N’ Go sees close to 3,000 vehicles a day, Olson said. Watford City, N.D., in the Oil Patch sees an average of more than 3,300 vehicles daily.
Jamestown misses most of that semi traffic because of the Highway 281 Bypass.
“It’s (traffic) dramatically increased and it’s positively affected the community,” Frye said.
More traffic means more stops at restaurants, more fuel and more stays in area hotels.
But it isn’t all Oil Patch traffic.
“Let’s not forget ag is still No. 1 here and there’s a significant amount of new tractors and large farm equipment and we’re excited about that,” he said.
Not to mention Carrington has a number of agriculture-related industries that continue to grow, said Lucinda Grandalen, economic development director for Carrington.
“There are a lot of trucks coming out of the pasta plant, trucks coming out of Central City Grain, just our local trucks,” Grandalen said.
A semi-to-train grain elevator wants to expand, another local elevator recently expanded and there’s talk about bringing in a breakfast cereal plant, Frye said.
“What does that mean? Great things for our city, but more trucks,” he said.
It also means a housing crunch. Currently there are only two houses for sale in Carrington, Grandalen said.
A new six-unit apartment complex recently opened in Carrington, and each $850 a month unit is spoken for — with a waiting list with 14 names, Grandalen said.
A new 16-unit building is planned to have construction start later this spring.
“As fast as we are bringing things in, they’re filling up and that’s a good problem but you still have to figure how to do more,” Frye said.
‘Footprint problem’ and solutions
Frye said the city is about as full as it can get, and the challenge now is adding housing and the required infrastructure into a tight place, or an adjacent place.
“The city’s footprint is now full,” he said. “It’s difficult to find a lot to put a new home or apartment complex on.”
Frye said he is working to build infrastructure. He met with a group Friday morning to discuss extending a sewer line into a possible development just outside of the city limits that could house eight or 10 homes.
He said the best way to find solutions is to actively re-examine city ordinances, and better clarify them to address the city’s needs.
Another tool helping Carrington with the influx of jobs and people is the city’s long-standing 1 cent sales tax. It garnered an all-time high of more than $395,000 in 2011.
According to Grandalen, some projects include matching dollars from the sales tax to improve business facilities and services provided, as well as start-up, expansion and retention grants.
In 2011 Carrington also approved 36 requests for purchasing and remodeling houses.
“There was a significant amount of purchases in new construction, and a lot of those homes never made it to the market,” Frye said of last year.
But right now the plan is to move forward while looking for ways to grow a small town. That includes partnering with the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. for help in attracting and retaining business in the region.
“We have a great working relationship with Connie Ova and JSDC and I think that benefits both of us,” Frye said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com