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Planners discuss concepts for Jamestown

Jamestown residents look at maps and conceptual drawings that may become part of the Land Use and Transportation Plan. The public input process will continue during the last week of February when the planners look at Jamestown planning in more detail. (Keith Norman / The Sun)

Changes to Interstate 94 Exit 257 could make the area safer for travelers. Those changes were part of the conceptual plans presented Thursday as part of the process of developing Jamestown’s Land Use and Transportation Plan.

Marty Shukert, planner with RDG Planning and Design, said the concepts came from the input of about 65 people who had attended one of two planning studios at City Hall on Wednesday.

“The significant question is the direction of growth,” he said, referring to Jamestown. “Part of the focus is in the southwest section that will develop but it’s not exclusive. There is also interest in the northeast around the airport and high school.”

The LUTP is a joint project of RDG Planning and Design and KLJ Engineering. The total cost of developing the plan is $340,000 with $220,000 covered by state and federal funding, and Jamestown covering costs of $120,000. The document will be completed by the fall and should serve as a planning guide for the city for 10 years.

Several members of the public attending the presentation said the process was needed.

“This is stuff we need to do,” said Dave Klein, Jamestown resident. “We don’t want to be in a situation like Dickinson or Williston where the city doesn’t have a plan.”

Shukert said transportation was one of the common themes raised by the public.

“How to connect the hospital (Jamestown Regional Medical Center) to (U.S. Highway) 281,” he said. “There was a good deal of concern about Exit 257. There is a general feeling it is unsafe but a lot of people rely on it.”

Exit 257 includes an exit from the left-hand lane for eastbound traffic. Shukert called it a “1960s design” and no longer considered it safe. The concept sketches include replacing the exit with an overpass that would connect the west part of Jamestown to the area of the proposed Menards store. The frontage road leading to the Highway 281 bypass exit would be improved to offer residents of the area access to Interstate 94.

“There is also a lot of interest in a grade over the railroad at 12th Avenue,” Shukert said. “The goal would be to minimize impact on the neighborhood and make the street better.”

Other topics raised by the public included suggestions to expand the system of sidewalks and bike paths.

“There are a lot of walking and biking paths but they don’t connect to each other,” he said.

Shukert said the current process involved identifying possibilities, not producing finished maps or reports. He also said the terrain of Jamestown, along with the obstacles of rivers, railroads and an interstate highway, make the task more challenging.

“These things don’t go away,” he said. “You have to be clever and maybe tolerant of hills.”

Shukert said another series of meetings will be held Feb. 26, 27 and 28. The schedule of public meetings will be announced closer to the date. The meetings are intended to look at specific areas in more detail.

Jennifer Schmidt of Jamestown said she was happy to see the planning process proceed.

“I’m happy to see steps taken to plan something rather than haphazard putting houses here and there,” she said.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at