FARGO — Traffic backups in and around downtown Fargo and Moorhead might soon be kicking up a notch.
A new construction project in Moorhead will limit traffic along one stretch downtown, while a new phase of an ongoing project in Fargo will close an additional road.
Beginning Monday morning, April 29, Fargo’s Main Avenue reconstruction project expands to include Fourth Street North, requiring the closure of that intersection, through points north and south.
Congestion was already up since the start of the project April 17.
Across the Red River in Moorhead, a water main replacement project on Center Avenue, between Fourth Street North and Eighth Street North, will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction.
Jeremy Gorden, Fargo transportation engineer, said the two cities try to coordinate projects when possible, and he acknowledged the timing isn’t the best.
“It’s not desirable to have these two at the same time, but it just happened that way,” he said.
Recent flooding only complicated matters, closing several bridges between the cities. But the outlook is brighter now, with the river receding enough for the First Avenue North bridge to reopen last week, and the 12th Avenue North bridge scheduled to open early this week.
“Once the river goes down, then we’re back to normal,” Gorden said.
New pipes in Moorhead
The Center Avenue project in Moorhead will replace about 1,800 feet of 1950s cast-iron water main with new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes.
Kristofer Knutson, water division manager at Moorhead Public Service, said there have been several water main breaks in the area over the past several years. The project is happening now, he said, so it can be finished before the city resurfaces Center Avenue later this year.
Knutson said the repairs will prevent future water main breaks and unexpected road closures. “This way we can do it in a thorough and orderly manner,” he said.
The water main project will be coordinated with repair work on the Center Avenue bridge, expected to start in early May. When that bridge project begins, traffic will be directed to use the First Avenue North bridge.
Both Moorhead projects are expected to last until mid-July.
Closed intersection in Fargo
The Main Avenue reconstruction project in Fargo began with the closure of Main between Second Street and Fourth Street.
The second phase, involving closure of the Main and Fourth Street intersection, will allow crews to install large pipes underneath the railroad tracks near there.
The intersection closure will stretch from just north of the tracks, down to First Avenue South. Traffic will be detoured to NP Avenue between Eighth Street and Second Street.
Gorden said there's a $500,000 incentive in place for the contractor, if work wraps up early. He’s optimistic that traffic congestion will ease in May, when colleges and universities are out for the summer.
In the meantime, a little patience is helpful.
“When we’re done with our projects, things are always better. You lose sight of that when you can’t get through there for a stretch,” he said.
Anyone who’d like to pose questions about the Main Avenue project directly to city engineers can attend public information meetings, held every other Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
The next meeting is Thursday, May 9, at The Depot at 701 Main Ave.