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Fargo reveals upcoming infrastructure plans

The infrastructure boost follows reductions that were made because of COVID-19 and cuts in what were expected to be extra state infrastructure funds through a program called Prairie Dog.

64th Avenue project in Fargo.jpg
Work is nearing completion the final few blocks of 64th Avenue South in Fargo from 25th Street to near where an overpass over Interstate 29 will be built. Barry Amundson / The Forum
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FARGO — Fargo's city engineering department has laid out plans for $125 million in infrastructure projects that will rebound after cuts this year, and has also revealed major road projects over the next few years, including a railroad quiet zone project set for 2021 in north Fargo.

The Capital Improvement Plan, as it's called, includes that roadway work, flood control efforts, new developments, replacing underground utility lines and maintenance of streets and other public property.

The infrastructure boost follows reductions that were made because of COVID-19 and cuts in what were expected to be extra state infrastructure funds through a program called Prairie Dog.

The city cut or delayed projects this year from an expected $108 million to $80 million, so the increase will be substantial.

The major road projects, which usually draw the most attention and also usually involve new water mains and sewer lines, slated for next year are:


  • Starting to build an overpass across Interstate 29 and making final roadway connections to 64th Avenue South where a two-year project bid was accepted Monday night, Nov. 30, for about $15 million. In 2021, an embankment will be constructed for the overpass with the actual bridge completed the next year.
    The overpass and extension of 64th Avenue will allow a connection to 38th Street South, which runs parallel with the interstate south of Walmart and into a planned residential growth area, according to Assistant City Engineer Tom Knakmuhs.
  • Continuing work on reconstructing Seventh Avenue North on the northern edge of downtown from Broadway to University Drive at a cost of $5.4 million. The roadway was reconstructed on the avenue east of Broadway this year.
  • Reconstructing eight blocks of University Drive North in the far northern part of the city from 32nd Avenue to 40th Avenue at a cost of $8.8 million.
  • Reconstructing 21st Avenue South from Gold Drive to 15th Street South at a cost of $3.4 million

The 64th Avenue overpass and University Drive projects are federal aid efforts, which means a large chunk comes from the federal government, while the other two are more locally financed projects with sales tax money, state aid and special assessments mostly paying for that work.
In future years, the planned major road projects with federal money are reconstructing 10 blocks of 32nd Avenue South from 22nd Street to 32nd Street in 2022, a two-year project finishing the four-lane on 52nd Avenue South near and across the Sheyenne River in 2023 and 2024 and reconstructing Main Avenue from University Drive to 25th Street in 2024.

Many of the other major infrastructure projects that are planned in the city next year under the plan are funded in a variety of ways, and sometimes don't involve direct city funds.

Other work planned for next year includes:

  • $31 million for flood control projects along the Red River, which is paid for with citywide flood sales tax money. So far, about 22.5 miles of levees or 85% are in place to protect the city up to 37 feet, according to engineer Nathan Boerboom. Another 3.5 miles are planned for 2021, which will almost complete the entire system. Projects planned this year are Belmont Addition, Riverwood, Royal Oaks, Elm Circle, Oak Grove and South University.
  • $38.2 million for streets and utilities in new developments which the city finances with special assessments paying for all of the expenses over time. Work is planned for the coming year in mostly the southern part of the city for residential developments including Madelyn Meadows, Eagle Valley, Valley View Estates, Bison Meadows, Golden Valley and Amber Valley Parkway. One project in the northern part of the city is Lavernes Addition at 42nd Street and 28th Avenue North, an industrial and commercial area west of Interstate 29 where the PRx Performance fitness equipment company is building a new structure, according to Knakmuhs.
    Two other new development projects are planned in southwest Fargo. Work will start on a unique state partnership for a Southwest Metro Stormwater Pond or what has been called "Fargo's lake" that will collect storm water from a wide swath in a planned new development area in the spring. The other project is building underground sewer and utility connections along 45th Street south of 52nd Avenue that will give Horace a second connection for utility services it has started receiving from Fargo.
  • $10.1 million for water main and local shares of road reconstruction. The city has 500 miles of water mains , with 71% being plastic pipe, with 17% cast iron and 17% asbestos cement that are more susceptible to breakage. The city has had 483 water main breaks in the past 10 years with a vast majority in the older neighborhoods in north Fargo from Main Avenue to 12th Avenue.
  • $6.3 million to help preserve some of the city's almost 1,400 lane miles of pavement, which is graded every four years from very poor to excellent. The city's total road network is in the excellent category. Next year the city will be hiring a firm for that examination of pavement throughout the city to determine where to do work. The work involves overlays, seal coating, asphalt crack sealing and concrete spot repair and rehabilitation.
  • $3.4 million for traffic and street lighting work, including $1.26 million for railroad quiet zones on Seventh Avenue and 16th Street where fencing along the track and pedestrian cross arms will be installed so trains no longer have to blow their horns in that area. Other work in this category includes new street lighting, pavement marking and maintenance.

Also making up the capital project list are storm sewer replacement and lift stations, alley paving and sidewalk replacements.
The department presented the plan to the city at its meeting this past week, and is expected to receive final approval for work at the Dec. 14 meeting.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. 701-451-5665
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