The City of Bismarck hired KLJ as the prime consultant for the Ash Coulee Reconstruction Project. The overarching goal for KLJ and the project was to improve vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle safety while making improvements to sewer, water, and stormwater infrastructure in the area. The project specifically targeted the safety and accessibility of turning vehicles, with a focus on Horizon Middle School (HMS) during peak hours. With a middle school directly adjacent to the corridor and the addition of a new elementary school nearby, the City of Bismarck roadway capacity and a safer corridor for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians was necessary.



The project transformed the two-lane rural roadway into a multi-lane urban corridor. To do this, the project was divided into three distinct phases.

  • Phase I – This phase included a comprehensive traffic analysis engaged the public, developed conceptual design, and documented environmental considerations (covering wetlands and cultural aspects).
  • Phase II - Focused on finalizing design, addressing right-of-way (ROW) considerations, and preparing detailed plans.
  • Phase III – Involved construction administration and surveying, and overseeing the implementation of a new roadway, integration of a roundabout, installation of utilities, development of pedestrian facilities, and safety enhancements.

KLJ adopted a two-zone approach for project construction, offering flexibility to the contractor while meeting the needs of all stakeholders. Ash Coulee faced challenges with limited crossings, lack of lighting, and the absence of pedestrian infrastructure on various neighborhood streets.

The Ash Coulee Drive’s Reconstruction project not only addressed these issues but also added an aesthetic touch to the surroundings. The reconstructed area is now visually pleasing, providing a safe and well-lit environment for neighbors to cross the street and enjoy direct access to HMS. This enhances connectivity along Ash Coulee Drive and contributes to the neighborhood’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Project enhancements improved traffic flow and safety and added to the corridor’s visual charm. The elimination of interruptions from turning traffic by adding turn lanes and a roundabout has streamlined movement and contributed to the area’s aesthetic coherence. The landscaping around the corridor was also vastly improved. Grass and hundreds of trees were planted along both sides of the corridor.



The new roadway is a multi-lane facility with restricted parking that includes bicycle and pedestrian facilities for the more than 1,000 students going to and from school along the corridor. The project also includes a roundabout at East Valley Drive. Overall, KLJ provided project development, environmental permitting, preliminary engineering, design, plan preparation, contract administration, public involvement, right-of-way, surveying, and construction inspection.

The successful project improved critical safety and traffic flow issues in this high-profile area of Bismarck and created sustainable infrastructure for the future. In 2024 the project was recognized by North Dakota Society of Professional Engineers (NDSPE) Chapter 3 for the 2024 Project of the Year Award. 



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