If the Cartwright tunnel is closing, what can I do to help keep it open?

Yes, it could close, if the money can be found to hire a contractor to close it.The same money could also repair the tunnel to keep it open.

The pillars of the Cartwright Tunnel have been tagged by vandals

From the east end, looking in to the Cartwright Tunnel.

That’s the word that community members are putting out. The members of Friends of the Fairview Bridge want people to know if something isn’t done, it will close.  The group wants to keep it open, but that’s becoming financially difficult — it’s costly to make the needed repairs.

This week, the non-profit group ordered warning signs to be posted at the tunnel.  They are confident there is no immediate danger of collapsing, but it is falling in. 


A beam lays in the tunnel, dragged there by vandals of the Cartwright Tunnel.

Vandals used a pickup truck to pull down this beam and drag it in to the middle of the tunnel to use as a bench.

Vandals created some of the greatest damage. They used a pickup truck to pull down some of the wood, dragged it into the tunnel, and left the timber as a bench by the bonfire they started in the tunnel.



The vandalization and natural erosion of the bridge worked together to stop more vehicular vandals.  When the east end settled and fell in after a repair attempt, it created a natural dirt berm to prevent vehicles from driving into the tunnel.

Standing on the berm that formed when environmental decay and vandals weakened the east end, allowing dirt to fill the entrance.

What can be done?

The Friends of Fairview Bridge spokesman, Ray Trumpower, said the group met this week and came away with no solutions.  They can’t afford to bring in the equipment to close the tunnel, and they can’t afford to hire a company to repair the east end.  An engineering firm designed the plans to repair the east end, but the cost is high.  One estimate put it at $2 million.


So, what can the rest of us do?  Talk it up, said Trumpower.  He said the more people know about the predicament, the more likely it will catch someone’s ear who can come up with a financial solution.  He said maybe a legislator will be able to put it into a budget.  The tunnel has the attention of local communities such as Fairview, Sidney, and Williston.  It’s also possible help could come from McKenzie County, the State of North Dakota, or even the federal government.  “We’ll work with anybody,” said Trumpower.


Until then, keep talking it up, Trumpower said.  “Go see it before it gets worse,” he said.

Here’s the link to learn more about the Cartwright Tunnel and the Fairview Lift Bridge.

What do you think should happen to the tunnel? Leave a comment, we’ll pass it on.

Want to help?  Got connections who can help? Legislators? Here is the contact information: 

 Friends of the Fairview Bridge at P.O. Box 374, Fairview, MT 59221, fairviewmtchamber@gmail.com, 406-489-2624.

Subscribe above to get notified when the next Beautiful Badlands ND story is published.  You’ll be the first to know!