Moorhead underpass opening delayed another year

The underpass under construction Monday, June 1, on Main Avenue, Moorhead, is not expected to be completed until next year. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD — The city of Moorhead announced Monday, June 1, that its $51 million Main Avenue railroad underpass won't open until next summer.

The complex underpass project will now stretch into its fourth year. It was originally hoped the project might be completed last fall.

Moorhead project engineer Tom Trowbridge described the delay as a matter of putting safety over speed.

The main problem, he said, is slope stability issues that have caused months of delays in constructing retaining walls.


"There are very weak soils in the area," Trowbridge said. "There's wet, silty clay and it's not fun to work with."

Redesign work to improve the safety issues has been ongoing over the winter and has involved working with the BNSF Railway, which has yet to sign off on the needed changes. Trowbridge said he hopes to get that approval early this month.

He said the top issues with the project are safety and security. "It's the highest priority," he said.

Staying within budget is the next priority, and the third priority is speed, which is being sacrificed to ensure a high quality, safe project, Trowbridge said.

Before work can continue on the Otter Tail Valley Railroad and BNSF Railway bridges over the underpass, the two retaining walls need to be shored up, Trowbridge added.

He said the walls will be finished this summer with the bridges slated to be done by November.

The following step in the project is the roadway under the bridges. Under the newly revised plan, work on that won't finish until next summer, Trowbridge said.


Moorhead underpass 2020.jpg
Work ocntinues on the Moorhead underpass project, but because of soil stability issues the opening has been dealyed until next summer. Submitted photo

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