WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — President Theodore Roosevelt once came to North Dakota’s Badlands to find solitude and solace amid the area’s “desolate, grim beauty.” But Roosevelt’s Dakota is barely visible today.
The area’s oil boom has resulted in an infrastructure-building frenzy as the rush for jobs and oil demands more roads, homes, food trucks and stores.
The epicenter is a 45-mile stretch of U.S. Route 85 between the towns of Williston and Watford City. Once a sleepy two-lane road across the lonely prairie, it’s being transformed into a four-lane highway with bypasses cutting around towns. In the spring and summer, oil patch roadwork slows traffic to a trickle akin to a major metropolis’ rush hour.
Oil patch towns — outposts of oil production now struggling to become livable cities — are trying to keep up. And housing, from apartment blocks in front of oil wells and flares to sprawling trailer parks on bluffs, are popping up like weeds across the countryside.
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