EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 20th 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.
WEST FARGO — Still two months from completion, West Fargo officials are hoping the reconstructed north end of Sheyenne Street will provide a boost to the city's downtown similar to what occurred when the south end of the city's premier street was rebuilt two years ago.
Being completed in three phases this summer, the final stretch of the seven-block, $10.5 million reconstruction is underway in the heart of downtown just off Main Avenue. The estimated completion date is Nov. 6.
Already completed is the work from Seventh Avenue West north to Second Avenue West.
In addition to replacing the concrete street, curb and gutter, work has also included new and expanded utility lines, which Assistant City Engineer Jerry Wallace estimates replaced pipes that were possibly 80 years old. He said the city is replacing 3,600 feet of water mains, 3,000 feet of storm sewer and 800 feet of sanitary sewer.
The last main component of the work, though, involves sprucing up the appearance of the final two blocks as the city aims to improve the walkability, safety, accessibility, parking and ambience of the downtown area.
The downtown has already undergone major developments in recent years, with several new offices and business buildings along the street. However, streetscaping, as it's called, will enhance the area's experience even more, according to Lauren Orchard, the city's economic development director.
The added features will hopefully bring more businesses to the downtown area to join the 10 to 15 already along the street or on immediately-adjacent roads, she said.
One of the features is a wider sidewalk of up to 10 feet on the east side, matching the new sidewalks on the west side put in earlier when the new buildings were constructed. Additionally, new features include bulb outs or curb extensions at intersections, permanent brick planting structures, trees and additional parking.
The 16 bulb outs along the street provide a wider and safer experience for pedestrians by shortening crossing distances and enhancing the appearance of the street. Orchard said there is also room for sculptures or other artwork along the street as well as possible interactive kiosks to inform people about the city.
As for parking, Wallace said there were originally 76 permanent parking spots along the street, but that will increase by 36 spots to 112 when the project is done. Parking will also become easier by changing to diagonal spots on the east side of the street, he added.
Orchard said they will be meeting with the businesses after work is done to see if there is enough added parking.
With the city posting a 50% increase in population in the past 10 years and 107% rise since 2000, Orchard said the new amenities were needed and they hope to add density to housing in the downtown area.
Much of West Fargo's recent growth has been south of Interstate 94, boosted recently by the revamped four-lane Sheyenne Street where major housing and business developments have sprung up.
One of the biggest projects there has been The Lights on Sheyenne which offers housing, bars, restaurants, retail and an outdoor concert venue.
The new downtown Sheyenne Street might transform the north end, too. At the very least, the area will certainly have a fresh look.
UNIVERSITY DRIVE NORTH: The $6.4 million federal aid road reconstruction project on University Drive North is scheduled to be completed with the roadway opening this coming Friday, Sept. 17.
The one-mile long project includes a new two-lane concrete roadway, new underground utility lines, a shared-use pathway on the west side of the road and improved drainage.
The roadway previously had steeper ditches and was more of a rural-type roadway, while this project will give it more of a city street feel. It connects with 32nd Avenue on the south end and 40th Avenue on the north end. It should provide a smoother road for workers traveling to the new Amazon Fulfillment Center and for other new companies building along 40th Avenue North.
A stoplight will be installed on the 32nd Avenue intersection, although it may not arrive until later this fall.
The completion of the road will also end a winding, low-speed detour route through a neighborhood to the east of the project zone. It was one of the few options for a detour route because of the airport land surrounding much of the project.
The south end of the project was completed earlier to provide access to the mobile home park along the street.
13TH AVENUE SOUTH: Crews will be installing permanent pavement markings from 25th Street to 28th Street South this week. Then, beginning the week of Sept 20th, crews will remove and replace deteriorated concrete in the intersection of 28th Street and 13th Avenue. This work will be completed in two phases and is scheduled to take three weeks. Traffic on 13th Avenue will continue to be reduced to one lane in each direction during this work.
17th AVENUE SOUTH: Traffic on 17th Avenue South has been reduced to one lane in each direction between 38th Street South and 42nd Street South. The closure is for private underground utility work along 17th Avenue and is expected to be in place for the rest of this week.
45TH STREET SOUTH: Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, 45th Street South will be reduced to one lane in each direction between 23rd and 26th Avenue South. The closure is for underground utility connections and is expected to be in place for up to two weeks.
BROADWAY DOWNTOWN: The rail crossing on Broadway between Fourth Street and Sixth Street North is tentatively scheduled to close for repairs beginning Monday, Sept. 27, until Monday, Oct. 4. The crossing will not be available during this time for vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle traffic.
During the closure, northbound traffic will be detoured along Fourth Avenue to Fourth Street North. Southbound traffic will be detoured along Sixth Avenue to Roberts Street.
24TH AVENUE: A cracked sanitary sewer pipe caused a washout and a road closure last week at the intersection of 24th Avenue and 36th Street South. Emergency crews were on the scene with temporary barricades. Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge reported late last week that the pipe was repaired and they were working on patching the street. He said the road should be open by this Monday, Sept. 13.
SIXTH STREET SOUTH: Crews have finished lining the old, egg-shaped, brick sanitary sewer lines on several blocks just south of Main Avenue on the southern edge of downtown. Bypass piping that ran down the middle of the streets in the area has also been removed, but Trowbridge said the contractors still have some street patching to finish up. The patching should be done this week, he said.
30TH AVENUE SOUTH: The summer-long project on 30th Avenue South is moving along as crews paved the roadway from 15th Street to 17th Street over the past few weeks. This week, they will install the curb and gutter on that stretch. Then, they will begin paving the last block of the project from 14th Street to 15th Street.
Minnesota Department of Transportation projects
HIGHWAY 9 BARNESVILLE: Starting this Monday, Sept. 13, motorists will encounter a temporary closure on Highway 9 and Main Avenue West in Barnesville, as railroad crews complete repairs at the crossing. Traffic will be detoured to County Road 52 and County Road 32 until Thursday, Sept. 16.
HIGHWAY 59/108 PELICAN RAPIDS: MnDOT is hosting a public meeting from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, at the high school auditorium regarding the 2024 and 2025 reconstruction of Highways 59 and 108 within Pelican Rapids city limits. An online option to this meeting is also available.
Residents can learn more about how the plan addresses future transportation issues including walking and bicycling infrastructure. A presentation will start at 5 p.m., with time for questions to follow.
Residents can also visit mndot.gov/d4/projects/pelicanrapids for more information on the project and the virtual meeting.
Cass/Clay county projects
GEORGETOWN BRIDGE: The bridge crossing the Red River on Cass County Road 34 and Clay County Highway 36 near Georgetown has reopened. The closure had been in place because of a roadway slump on the west edge of the bridge in North Dakota. MnDOT assisted in a bridge inspection and it was deemed structurally safe. This fall, some minor repairs will be made on the bridge.