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Bumper-to-bumper shopping

Rusty Papachek is optimistic. Sure, the West Acres mall manager knows the road construction along 13th Avenue Southwest won't be great for business. But he said the new and improved road resulting from the project will be worth the pain. As for J...

Rusty Papachek is optimistic.

Sure, the West Acres mall manager knows the road construction along 13th Avenue Southwest won't be great for business.

But he said the new and improved road resulting from the project will be worth the pain.

As for John Stern, co-owner of Straus Clothing, he's as upbeat as a person can be about road construction.

"If they do things like last year, we'll be OK," Stern said. "We're a destination store and will take steps to make a trip here worthwhile."

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Straus Clothing, 3223 13th Ave. S.W., and the West Acres Mall, 3902 13 Ave. S.W., are just two shopping destinations affected by 13th Avenue Southwest road construction, which begins in force next week.

It's all part of the seven-year Interstate-29 renovation project, which not only will affect traffic on I-29, but also on 38th Street South, 13th Avenue South and Southwest, Ninth Avenue South and 17th Avenue South.

On 13th Avenue Southwest, under the I-29 overpass, traffic will be reduced to one lane both eastbound and westbound while crews begin reconstructing the roadway.

But the city of Fargo also has a $6.8 million 13th Avenue South road construction project in the works.

This project will affect 13th Avenue South from 21st to 34th streets.

Rick Lane, senior engineer for the city of Fargo, said the city has been working with the state on coordination of construction schedules to ease the impact on traffic.

The city project is expected to begin May 1 and be complete no later than Oct. 18. The NDDOT I-29 project will be done by Nov. 1.

The city and the state are working together with the Chamber of Commerce of Fargo-Moorhead to keep businesses along this stretch of road informed and updated.

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The chamber has formed a business advisory group to develop ways to minimize the impact of road construction on businesses.

"There's no way you can avoid this completely," said David Martin, chamber public affairs manager. "Businesses have said this might affect them, but they also know this will be good for the community in the long run."

Lyle Hornbacher, a spokesman for the Doublewood Inn at 3333 13th Avenue South, said they've known this construction was coming for quite a while, and have been preparing for it.

Since events at the Doublewood are pre-planned, Hornbacher said convention planners are given detailed instructions on how to get to the facility, including alternate routes.

"It will be an inconvenience, there's no doubt about that," Hornbacher said. "We may lose some walk-in business, but that's about it."

Papachek said there was a slight decrease in business at the mall last year due to 13th Avenue construction, but nothing drastic.

One reason for that, he said, was the mall's Street Smart campaign, which was organized to keep merchants and shoppers aware of any changes outside the West Acres area.

Papachek said the campaign will be in place this year, too, especially since the 2002 phase of the project will be more extensive than last year.

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In addition to head-to-head traffic along 13th Avenue South, the West Acres Mall entrance at 38th Street South will be closed starting in early April. A temporary entrance will be opened at 13th Avenue South and 40th Street.

"It might be a bit of a nuisance," Papachek said. "But we hope people know we're open for business."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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