Major changes almost finalized for Moorhead's Center Avenue reconstruction

Plans expected to be approved by March 1, with work to start in May

Center Avenue is downtown Moorhead will be reconstructed this summer with a new roadway and other amenities, including an off-street bike lane and landscaping.
Barry Amundson / The Forum

MOORHEAD — Plans for reconstruction of five blocks of Moorhead's Center Avenue, which city officials hope in the coming years will be something similar to Fargo's Broadway but still unique, are nearly complete.

Residents can still provide input through the city's website when a virtual presentation of the project will be available starting in mid-February.

A variety of improvements are planned for the estimated $5.6 million project which will be serving as sort of a kickoff to the further dreams for downtown Moorhead.


Final plans are expected to be approved by the City Council by March 1 with documents then available to potential bidders. After bids are approved likely in early April, work is expected to begin in May.

Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge said the timing for the project, in the works for almost four years and delayed once, is good as major new developments are being planned along the street from the Red River bridge to Eighth Street in the coming few years.


Some of the projects that could benefit are the planned renovation of the Moorhead Center Mall and a major revamping of the United Sugars property on the east end of the mall, adding a new housing and commercial structure.

Trowbridge said the reconstruction, instead of a previously planned overlay of the street, will allow for several major changes.

The new concrete downtown corridor will be three lanes, including a center turn lane, and be reduced in width from about 49 feet to 45 feet, with more of the city's right of way being utilized.

This will allow for room for 48 parallel parking spots and a protected off-street bike lane along the north side of the street, as well as room for landscaping with trees, planters, tables and benches along the avenue. New eight foot-wide sidewalks with handicapped accessibility improvements are also planned on both sides of the roadway, as well as new street lighting.

Eventually the street will tie in with improvements further to the east on Center Avenue when the new railroad underpass on 11th Street is constructed, providing continuity to vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Trowbridge said input on the project actually started in 2018 when the initial plans for the avenue were discussed. Since, abutting property owners, businesses, city officials and residents have also been able to suggest ideas.

The avenue has had several faults that led to the need for the reconstruction, according to Trowbridge, including poor pavement condition, higher than typical crash rates, lack of bicycle facilities and relatively high number of access points with limited left-turn capabilities.

Funding for the project will include a special $1.25 million state grant for local roads, $2.4 million in state aid funds, a city share of $1.15 million with $289,000 in special assessments to benefiting property owners. The landscaping contract will be bid separately with funds from the city's capital improvement fund while the new lighting will be from the city's street light utility fund.

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