Reconnecting the Reservation with Bridges

Bridges may be a lifeline for reconnecting Fort Berthold communities separated by the Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea after 60 years. Not only can they provide better access to vital services (jobs, education, health care), they will help reduce travel time, and provide safer travel alternatives across Fort Berthold.

What is a Bridge Plan?
A bridge plan determines the feasibility, costs, risks, and benefits of building bridges such as the Charging Eagle Bay and/or Elbowoods Bridges over strategic points of Lake Sakakawea.

With the construction of the Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea in 1956, one-sixth of the Fort Berthold area was flooded (152,360 acres), and 70% of our road and bridge infrastructure was permanently lost. This displaced our families, destroyed sacred sites, ruined the best farmland, flooded valuable natural resources, destroyed the economy, and isolated communities that had previously been connected. The Charging Eagle Bay and Elbowoods bridges would help reconnect our communities, as well as create more viable corridors for trucking, recreation, and commercial travel.

In the early ’70’s, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted an environmental assessment for the construction of the Charging Eagle Bay Bridge. At the time, the proposed bridge project was to span 4,500 feet across the Little Missouri River arm of Lake Sakakawea and connect State Highway 22 (near Mandaree) with State Highway 8 (near Twin Buttes). By conducting a feasibility study for the Charging Eagle Bay and Elbowoods bridge development, we can best understand the costs, benefits and investment required to reconnect our communities.

Why is Bridge Planning Important?
Access to Vital Services.

In conjunction with public transit, bridges are important for providing Fort Berthold residents access to essential services such as work, education, and health care. This also includes the ability for emergency first responders (ambulance, fire trucks or police) to reach remote and isolated areas quicker.

Reduce Travel Time.
The Charging Eagle Bay bridge would reduce the distance between Mandaree and Twin Buttes to only 22 miles (from 69 miles) and eliminate the need to drive off of Fort Berthold boundaries. The Elbowoods Bridge would reconnect the heart of Fort Berthold through East-West travel and reduce the Twin Buttes and White Shield journey to 20 miles (currently 103 miles that takes two hours in ideal traffic conditions).

Connect the Community.
The proposed bridges would help reconnect communities that were split 60 years ago by the construction of the Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea. Not only would this strengthen community ties between segments, it would help stimulate the economy by creating more viable corridors for commercial travel, trucking, and recreation.