Fargo City Commission kills pedestrian bridge project near City Hall

“We have heard from our citizens throughout this process,” Commissioner Denise Kolpack said. “I certainly am taking their input to heart on this case. It’s clear that a majority have spoken.”

2nd street bridge
A revised rendering of the proposed Second Street pedestrian bridge outside City Hall in downtown Fargo.
Submitted photo

FARGO — After widely negative public feedback, a downtown Fargo project nearly 10 years in the making has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

The Fargo City Commission on Monday, Feb. 6, voted 4-1 to cancel the Second Street Pedestrian Bridge Project, giving back the $2.4 million in federal funds after extended public outcry.

Mayor Tim Mahoney provided the lone "no" vote.

The City Commission expressed varying levels of support for the idea back in August but, after overwhelmingly negative feedback from the public in October, the city took a step back to reexamine.

A new, cheaper, concept was presented to the Commission in December by consultant KLJ, with mixed reactions from commissioners.


Monday's meeting put the project's fate up for debate.

Commissioner Arlette Preston said the project, in its current form, is jumping the proverbial gun. The project, designed to cross over Second Street North and the floodwall to connect to the riverfront trail system and deposit pedestrians on the front lawn of Fargo’s City Hall, should be put on hold, she said.

Four design options for the project and their cost.png
Four design options for the project and their cost.
Submitted photo / City of Fargo

Any future decisions shouldn't be made until the concept of the Civic Plaza outside City hall has been further developed, Preston added. Without larger public buy-in for the vision of the Plaza, the bridge is unnecessary, she said, noting that it's a simple detour to navigate around the floodwall and cross Second Street as a pedestrian.

Mahoney disagreed.

“Imagine yourself coming from the river and trying to get up to Broadway with a child walking with you in a stroller,” Mahoney said. “That’s not easy to do.”

Second Street is a busy avenue and the project prioritized pedestrian safety, Mahoney said.

“The plaza will develop around the bridge,” said Mahoney, who advocated for the Commission to utilize their $2.4 million in federal grant funding to complete the bridge project first, prior to moving on to the rest of the plaza.

“Money is hard to find from the feds,” Mahoney said, adding there is no guarantee that the city will receive that funding again.


City Engineer Brenda Derrig clarified that if the funds are not committed to a project by September, the city will need to return the funds to the federal government.

The project was originally meant to be put out to bid for construction in November, 2023, with the project’s design finalized by consultant KLJ in mid 2023.

An illustration shows an elaborate bridge to a plaza in downtown Fargo
A concept drawing shows ideas for a plaza in front of Fargo City Hall, with a large bridge and path going downtown that appears more elaborate than bridge rendering presented in August 2022.
Submitted photo / City of Fargo

As part of a larger vision for the downtown area , the bridge was intended to be a centerpiece in the city’s creation of a "Central Park" in the Civic Plaza outside City Hall.

When asked for their thoughts on the bridge project, survey takers were “overwhelming… opposed to the project,” according to KLJ’s Public Engagement Report, noting that a large percentage of the objections were cost based.

Out of 121 survey comments, 72% were in opposition to the project, 17% were of mixed opinion and 11% were supportive of the project, according to the report.

Comments also showed that residents strongly questioned the need for the project at all.

“It’s a bridge to nowhere and a stupid idea. Spend the money on something more important,” a comment said, while another said it was a terrible location for a bridge.

Still in the works, the reimagined Civic Plaza could include an outdoor amphitheater for smaller concerts or gatherings, a skyway cactus garden and a larger open plaza in front of City Hall for gatherings from 4,000 people up to 13,000.


Other features include a designated food truck station, an indoor wetland pavilion, a splash pad, a forest pavilion and a river overlook area included in the bridge design.

Commissioner Denise Kolpack pointed out the nearly 10-year timeline of the project, citing extensive construction of Second Street, the building of Fargo’s City Hall and delays in obtaining federal funding.

Project Timeline.png
Timeline of the pedestrian bridge project over Second Street North in downtown Fargo.
Submitted photo / City of Fargo

“We have heard from our citizens throughout this process,” Kolpack said. “I certainly am taking their input to heart on this case. It’s clear that a majority have spoken.”

Given other city projects competing for funding, Kolpack said the bridge isn’t a priority.

Derrig pointed out that the city could reapply for the funds in the future.

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