The city of Williston and the North Dakota Transportation Department find themselves in quite the quandary after the discovery of Native American artifacts in an area being considered for a truck bypass around Williston.
Because of the huge increase in truck traffic in the city, Williston officials have worked with the state to develop plans for a permanent bypass around the city. A temporary bypass has been put in place, but it is intended to be a short-term solution, lasting only a couple of years.
The preferred route for a permanent bypass has become controversial after what NDDOT Director Francis Ziegler called an "unprecedented" discovery of artifacts, including burial sites and stone circles. The state has spend $1 million studying the cultural resources, and the state's tribes have indicated they might sue to stop the project.
We realize that open space is at a premium in the Williston area, and we also realize that the bypass project is vital to the longterm safety of residents in and around the city. But there simply must be an alternate route found that avoids the burial sites and stone circles altogether. It would be unacceptable to build a highway through such sensitive areas.