The 22nd Annual Ports To Plains Conference returned to Williston for the second time in five years, bringing the spotlight once again to the work that is being done in the region.

Business leaders, city officials, economic development leaders and legislatures from across the midwest packed the Old Armory in Williston to take part in the three-day conference, taking part in seminars discussing topics regarding the Ports To Plains Alliance Trade Corridor, which stretches from Texas up to Canada, and includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“We have a very diverse group of individuals in the room today,” said John Osborne, Ports To Plains Alliance chairman. “This is an important set of issues, and an important time frame for us. What’s taking place here in Williston right now is happening in many places not just up and down the corridor, but throughout the region.”

Several of the Alliance’s accomplishments for the year were highlighted, including the project to replace the Long X Bridge near Watford City, which will widen the bridge to four lanes to better accommodate truck traffic.

In addition to the Long X project, Brad Bekkedahl, Williston City Commissioner and Ports To Plains board member, spoke about the work to construct a four-lane highway along Highway 85 between Watford City and Interstate 94 near Belfield. Environmental clearance was just granted for that project to begin, which will add much needed infrastructure to the corridor.

Conference attendees spent the day Wednesday hearing from leaders in the energy and transportation industries, discussing ways to better support transportation infrastructure along the corridor.

The group broke for lunch to hear Keynote Speaker Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford before finishing up the day discussing freight issues with transportation officials and how to make progress at the state level in terms of improvements along the corridor.

The conference wraps up on Thursday, Oct. 17 with another day full of activity, including discussions on both the Long X and Williston Basin International Airport projects and a tour of Watford City and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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