EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 19th in a series of regular reports on road and other infrastructure projects this construction season in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Cass County and Clay County.

GEORGETOWN, Minn. — After an inspection by Minnesota Department of Transportation engineers, it was concluded that a unique 75-year-old bridge, which crosses the Red River into Cass County near Georgetown, Minn., is structurally sound

However, a foot-deep roadway dip on the North Dakota side of the bridge will have to be repaired before it can reopen.

The bridge is about 16 miles north of Fargo and Moorhead, just northwest of Georgetown and about eight miles northeast of Argusville, was closed in early August.

The good news, of course, according to Cass County Engineer Jason Benson and Clay County Engineer Dave Overbo, is the bridge that connects Cass County Road 34 with Clay County Road 37 will be open again this fall.

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A definite date isn't known, said Benson, as they first plan to fortify the slumping roadway by removing some pavement and building it back up with more gravel. Benson said there has been no further deterioration in the roadway since the dip was discovered a month ago.

The slump was likely the result of dry conditions and the region's unstable clay soil, which causes problems on many infrastructure projects and can give engineers headaches along the Red River.

However, Benson and Overbo said they will set up an ongoing monitoring and inspection program to check on bridge components and record any further riverbank instability on a more frequent schedule. Benson said the bridge is not heavily traveled, with about only 50 vehicles passing over it per day.

Here's a view of the closed bridge over the Red River in between Georgetown, Minn., and the Argusville, N.D., area.  The bridge will be reopened this fall after a favorable safety check.   Barry Amundson / The Forum
Here's a view of the closed bridge over the Red River in between Georgetown, Minn., and the Argusville, N.D., area. The bridge will be reopened this fall after a favorable safety check. Barry Amundson / The Forum

Overbo added that the bridge is often used by farmers and agricultural production vehicles. It could handle heavier weight, he said, but it's listed for a weight limit of 27 tons and most users in that area haul that weight or less.

The bridge will also need some minor maintenance work involving bearings under the bridge, Overbo said, but the work won't prevent the bridge from reopening. The bearings are designed to rotate with movement and they simply need to be readjusted. The work would only take about a day, he said, and was last done in 2009.

A report on any possible solution to another closed bridge crossing the Red River in far north Fargo into Clay County and north Moorhead is due soon. Officials have said the North Broadway Bridge will need to be replaced or closed.

Other Cass County project updates

Benson reported that most Cass County road projects this year have been wrapped up because the dry summer caused few delays in work. In all, about $16 million worth of projects are in the works this year thanks to added federal aid funds as opposed to typically $12 million worth of projects.

Among projects already completed are:

  • Repaving of an eight-mile stretch of north-south County Road 11 north of Mapleton to west of Argusville
  • The addition of another four-inch-thick layer of pavement to seven miles of County Road 10, which was reconstructed and widened last year, between Mapleton and Casselton
  • The reconstruction and realigning of County Roads 10 and 5 near Wheatland where dangerous sharp curves were addressed and about two miles of roadway were widened with turn lanes added

Another project completed is a two-year effort that will provide another route between south Fargo and Horace, relieving some of the traffic on Sheyenne Street or County Road 17.

The project on previous township roads involves tying 76th Avenue north of Horace into a yet-to-be-constructed extension of 45th Street South in Fargo. The project will provide a connection to 52nd Avenue South as well as to other new roads in the developing area of southwest Fargo.

This year, Benson said they graded, widened and added gravel on about one mile of 76th Avenue east of the entrance to the new Heritage Middle School and Horace High School. Contractors also performed the same work on one mile of 45th Street from 76th Avenue north to 64th Avenue. The two miles of improved two-lane roadways with turn lanes will be paved next year.

Fargo project updates

SEVENTH AVENUE NORTH: Reconstruction of the busy east-west roadway on the north end of downtown was opened Friday, Aug. 27, about a month earlier than expected.

The seven-block project from University Drive to Broadway near the Sanford Broadway Medical Center had to be completed by Sept. 25 because the contractor was eligible to receive an incentive of $3,500 per day if they completed the project in less than 150 days. The contractor used only 131 of the 150 days and therefore will receive an incentive payment of $66,500 for finishing 19 days early, according to Assistant City Engineer Tom Knakmuhs.

With the project completed, the temporary traffic signals on Eighth Avenue North at 10th Street and at University Drive have been turned off with traffic being able to access Seventh Avenue North at all intersections. Some minor traffic impacts can be expected intermittently as the contractor completes minor items, Knakmuhs said.

The third phase of the project will be done next year, but won't affect the busiest sections of the avenue. The last phase will run from Second Avenue to the east into the Oak Grove Lutheran School neighborhood. Last year the road was reconstructed from Broadway to the east near Second Avenue. The lengthy roadway is a busy one as it provide a connection to downtown Fargo from West Fargo via an overpass on Interstate 29.

FOURTH STREET SOUTH: The closure on Fourth Street South on the southeast edge of downtown for the past few weeks was to allow for utility connections for the new Prairie St. Johns Hospital. Depending on weather, the street will likely reopen in the middle to late part of this week.

13TH AVENUE SOUTH: The concrete rehabilitation project is ahead of schedule. This week, crews will be completing grinding of the concrete pavement for improved ride smoothness and installing permanent pavement markings on 13th Avenue between 25th Street and 28th Street.

Starting the week of Sept. 13, depending up on weather, the contractor will start concrete pavement repairs on the 28th Street and 13th Avenue intersection. The project involves replacing some concrete panels in need of repair as well as fixing several intersections where a faster-curing but less-durable concrete was used during construction years ago.