FARGO — Despite noting that some have concerns about urban sprawl in far south Fargo, the Fargo City Commission on Monday, June 17, approved a new east-west avenue and overpass across Interstate 29.

The $27 million 64th Avenue South project will be bid next April, with work expected to start in May and last for two years.

Part of the project roadway is currently a gravel, two-lane road providing access to adjacent properties and developments. Another part of the roadway is only a minimum maintenance section line roadway with access to adjacent farmland.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said "it's part of our job" to prepare for growth in the city and that if it wasn't done now before more housing developments spring up in the area "it would cost a fortune later."

He said east-west routes need to be in place and that the avenue would be an arterial road. He said although there are concerns about urban sprawl, "we have to be prepared."

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City Transportation Engineer Jeremy Gorden said a city staff committee recommended an option that would involve a three-lane roadway that includes the turning lane in the center and 10-foot-wide walking and bicycle paths on both sides of the avenue. The project also includes a four-span bridge over I-29 that would be constructed in a way that it could be widened if a decision to add ramps for a full interchange is approved by state and federal transportation agencies.

Gorden said the roadway would be built as a "livable street" with slower speeds to make it more walking and biking friendly. It would be similar to the construction on 40th Avenue South in Fargo.

The commissioners approved it on a 5-0 vote.

City Commissioner Grindberg, however, added that the option should be left open to do the complete interchange which could save money down the road.

The project was originally slated to be started this year, but it was switched around with the more pressing 52nd Avenue South project in southwest Fargo where more traffic and housing is already in place.

It will be funded by $10 million in federal aid, $12 million in special assessments and the other $5 million through the city's sales tax infrastructure fund.

Commissioner Tony Gehrig said a fire station will likely be needed in that area in the near future and that to have that access across the interstate would be important.

Gorden said the project cost can be spread over two years as far as the city funds go, which shouldn't take away from other work in the city.

Commissioner John Strand wondered about the full ramp interchange. Gorden said the state recommends an interchange every two miles in the city. This bridge will be about a mile south of the current interchange at 52nd Avenue South.

In another project approved Monday night, the city OK'd a $501,100 project to replace the public address system in the Fargodome arena.

The Bose equipment that would replace all speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers will be purchased and installed by the AVI Systems Inc., which installed the existing sound system when it was last done in 2006.

Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik told The Forum that the current system "is at the end of its useful life" with some of the speakers not even operational.

He said there was $250,000 in this year's budget, but the Fargo Dome Authority Board decided it would be better to do it all at once rather than piecemeal and reallocated existing other funds to pay for it. The system is being purchased through an existing state contract with the company.