Tokio is a small community located within the Spirit Lake Nation in Benson County, ND. A number of local amenities including the church, convenience store, and community center are located near Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Route 21 which had the potential of causing risk and injury to pedestrians utilizing BIA 21 to access city amenities. In 2004 the area was surveyed by KLJ to construct a shared-use path and was listed on the Spirit Lake Tribe’s Transportation Improvement Program. Due to funding limitations and project prioritization, the project was pushed back several times.



In 2011 the project became feasible and required an expedited timeline. To advance the project, KLJ completed a market value study in June 2011, paving the way for subsequent right-of-way negotiations. In August, Spirit Lake Tribe signed a contract with the BIA to develop the shared-use path, which increases safety for pedestrians and motorists.

The scope was subsequently expanded as the project progressed to increase safety and efficiency. The Spirit Lake Tribe requested to add a valley gutter, patching on an adjacent roadway and installation of flashing signs with pedestrian actuation to the project scope. The new items placed added pressure on the project’s budget and timeline, but promised a superior end result which would increase pedestrian and motorist safety.

Added work items, limited budget, and time constraints were just some of the challenges associated with the shared-use path. The project area itself was congested by private land, trees, and existing utilities. The acquisition process also proved challenging. KLJ worked with the Spirit Lake Tribe, the City of Devils Lake, Benson County, private landowners, and the BIA to obtain permanent easements.

KLJ’s role in the project included surveying, preliminary design, permitting, acquisition, design and engineering, landscape restoration and construction observation and administration. Mayo Construction provided all construction services.



The project improved safety for pedestrians by isolating them from traffic, establishing a single crosswalk over BIA 21, and added signage and warning lights. Safety issues for motorists were also resolved through signage, rumble strips, and pavement resurfacing. Additionally, the shared-use path serves as a vital link to popular amenities in Tokio, such as the community center.

In 2013, the Tokio Shared-Use Path received an Engineering Excellence award through the North Dakota American Council of Engineering Companies (ND/ACEC) which was rated on uniqueness and/or innovative applications, future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public, social, economic, and sustainable development considerations, complexity, and successful fulfillment of client/owner's needs.

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