Planning for a change to the exit ramps for U.S. Interstate 94 in Jamestown is still in the early stages, although a new plan proposed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation was reviewed by the Jamestown Public Works Committee last week.

In question is Exit 257, where eastbound traffic exits from the left of the interstate highway and travels by an overpass into Jamestown's network of streets, according to Travis Dillman, city engineer with Interstate Engineering.

The plan proposed by the NDDOT would extend 17th Street Southwest all the way to Exit 256 to the west. The two lanes of interstate would then be placed closer together, similar to the rest of the highway, and an overpass would connect 17th Street Southwest to 20th Street Southwest, which is the road that connects the Menards area to Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

The connection point would be slightly west of the turn now on 20th Street Southwest.

That proposal by the NDDOT falls short, according to Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich.

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"How to get traffic from 17th Street to Interstate (94) is a dilemma," he said. "We need a westbound on-ramp near the current location and an eastbound off-ramp."

Heinrich said those would be the minimums, but a full exit offering both on- and off-ramps in both directions would be preferred.

"Otherwise, we have a lot more traffic on the road by the hospital," he said. "A full interchange would be the best thing for Jamestown."

Planning is still in the early stages and costs are not estimated yet, Dillman said.

Even if the project were approved today, it would take more than two years to design and bid the project, he said.

"And then construction would probably be a multiyear project," Dillman said.

Heinrich said all costs of the project should be paid by the state as the originator of the project.

"We are in the very early discussion phase," Dillman said. "The only thing we know is they (North Dakota Department of Transportation) want Exit 257 gone."