FARGO — Another first for Fargo and North Dakota drivers is coming on the 1.7-mile, $19 million 52nd Avenue South project on the southern edge of the city.

Three R-cuts along the roadway at 47th Street, 53rd Street and 53rd Avenue require drivers at those intersections to take a right turn to go left. Drivers will cross the new two-lane into a center cut in the median where they will do a u-turn if they want to go the other direction or make a left turn.

If they are just making a right turn, drivers will simply turn right and go with the traffic. Trucks can use an r-cut designed specifically to make the u-turn easier.

City traffic division engineer Kevin Gorder said the r-cuts will improve traffic flow because there won't be traffic signals at those intersections; additionally, he said studies have shown significant reductions in crashes because of the R-cuts.

Gorder said signal light systems cost about $350,000 each, so r-cuts also reduce project expenses.

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The second bridge is completed on 52nd Avenue, and traffic will switch from head-to-head to one lane in each direction on both sides of the four-lane avenue beginning Monday, Oct. 14, weather permitting.

One lane will remain closed so crews can work on the medians and raise street lights. Gorder said the entire two lanes on each side should be open within a couple of weeks.

The avenue will remain closed from Veterans Boulevard to 63rd Street for a few more weeks. Although the concrete is poured all along that stretch of the roadway, Gorder said work continues on some curb and gutter and other facets.

The expected date of completion for the entire project is Thursday, Nov. 7, he said. About the only part of the project that won't be completed is some of the sidewalk from Veterans Boulevard west to 63rd Street.

Reconstructing the final stretch of the avenue from 63rd Avenue west to Sheyenne Street is slated for a project in 2023. That will remain a two-lane stretch until then. In the meantime, the 52nd Avenue arterial road will provide an east-west route from West Fargo and Horace to Moorhead, crossing four cities, an interstate and two rivers.

In other project updates:

42nd Street South in Fargo: The street has fully reopened for now. On Thursday, Oct. 10, crews removed all traffic control on 42nd Street South ahead of the inclement weather because only minor work remains to complete the concrete pavement repair project. When weather conditions improve, crews will finish pavement grinding and install the permanent roadway markings from 24th Avenue to 32nd Avenue South. There will be single-lane reductions in both directions surrounding that project work, but the road will not fully close again in either direction.

Also this week, crews will continue working on building the new section at the 23rd Avenue intersection, east of 42nd Street. Crews were delayed from finishing a necessary relocation of a high-pressure petroleum pipeline this past week. The section of pavement at 23rd Avenue is slated to open at the end of October or early November, weather permitting.

The new traffic signal at the 23rd Avenue and 42nd Street intersection will be installed next spring due to manufacturer delays in receiving the equipment.

Sheyenne Street in West Fargo: Milestones were reached this past week on the project as the new bridge over Sheyenne Street was completed and all ramps on the new interchange opened. Another milestone was the opening of the second bridge over the Sheyenne River Diversion, which was widened to three lanes with a pedestrian crossing on the east side.

This view shows how the Sheyenne Street project is advancing on the south side. The driving lanes have been poured as well as sidewalks on both sides of the street.  KLJ Engineering drone photo
This view shows how the Sheyenne Street project is advancing on the south side. The driving lanes have been poured as well as sidewalks on both sides of the street. KLJ Engineering drone photo

With the bridge opening, two lanes of traffic are open in each direction from just north of the interchange to 32nd Avenue Southwest. That stretch of roadway will eventually be three lanes in each direction when work is completed on colored concrete in the medians and striping. Sidewalk work and some dirt work remains in that area.

The street will eventually narrow to two lanes in each direction from 32nd Avenue to the south to 40th Avenue.. As for that closed-off section, it was reported that all concrete will be finished by Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, weather permitting.

On the far south end, the street is open from 38th Avenue to 40th Avenue for local access only.

Work should be completed in a few weeks in the area of the interchange and the diversion bridges, with the 32nd Avenue to 38th Avenue stretch completed just after that to complete work on the two-year project.

Interstate 29 south of Fargo: Preparations for the repair of I-29 overpass bridge at the Wild Rice River exit about nine miles south of Fargo near Horace has began. Crews are building the median crossovers this fall to support traffic being carried head-to-head next spring on the interstate when repair work begins.

11th Street South in Moorhead: The intersection of 11th Street South and 20th Avenue South will be closed starting Monday, Oct. 14, for installation of a private gas utility. The work will last about two weeks and should reopen by Oct. 28. Signs will direct motorists away from the area.