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Businesses on 45th brace for road work

It may sound odd coming from a contractor, but Northern Improvement Co.'s Greg McCormick said he hopes people won't avoid 45th Street South during this year's reconstruction project.

It may sound odd coming from a contractor, but Northern Improvement Co.'s Greg McCormick said he hopes people won't avoid 45th Street South during this year's reconstruction project.

Contractors and the city of Fargo are working with businesses to make sure the six-lane widening project doesn't take too big a bite out of their bottom lines.

"Access won't ever be blocked off," said McCormick, an engineer and public relations liaison for the project.

The four-lane street has been reduced to one lane each direction since Thursday as workers remove the center median.

Crews started paving the median Monday. It will serve as a left-turn lane during the reconstruction from Ninth Avenue South to Interstate 94.


Workers will begin ripping up the street Thursday, starting at Ninth Avenue and working their way south, said Brenda Derrig, the city's project engineer. The demolition was originally set to begin next Monday.

"It's actually going way smoother than we anticipated," she said.

The first and second phases of the project involve rebuilding northbound 45th Street from Ninth Avenue to just north of 19th Avenue. That will allow the busy intersection near Petro Travel Center to remain unaffected until mid-August, McCormick said.

Several merchants along the busy thoroughfare said Monday they're not sure what to expect from the project.

"It's certainly not going to help business, but hopefully people will find their way here," said Grant Hensrud, a partner in Qdoba Mexican Grill at 18th Avenue and 45th Street.

Chuck Kesler, whose family owns Dead Rockstar in the 45th Street Colonnade, said the clothing store hadn't noticed a drop in customers since 45th Street went to one-lane traffic Thursday.

"We put some stuff on the radio just to let them know we'd still be here, just to be on the safe side," Kesler said.

While intersections will remain open throughout the project, a few businesses will temporarily lose their direct access off 45th Street when the three lanes of concrete are being paved, Derrig said. Among them are Kohl's Department Stores, Office Depot and Hobby Lobby.


Kohl's manager Jeff Eddy said shoppers will still have access from 13th Avenue, 15th Avenue and 42nd Street. The store plans to put up directional signs to help customers.

"My gut feeling is if people want to find us, they'll be able to find us," Eddy said.

The city also will erect up to two signs per business in the construction zone to assist drivers, Derrig said.

The $9 million project is designed to handle rising traffic volumes brought on by rapid development in southwest Fargo. By 2030, the number of vehicles using 45th Street is projected to double to 50,000 cars per day.

The new, wider roadway will use 80,000 square yards of concrete. Double-left turn lanes will be added at the 13th, 17th and 19th avenue intersections.

The 13th Avenue intersection is a critical part of the project, McCormick said. Contractors will have 60 days from the time they impact traffic to widen 13th Avenue to six lanes from 44th to 47th streets. Work will begin in mid- to late May, when piping arrives for a new sanitary sewer main.

The majority of the 45th Street work is scheduled for completion in November.

McCormick said drivers also won't have any excuse for not knowing the 25-mph speed limit; 29 signs are posted in the 11/4-mile construction zone to remind them.


While the city says no detours are necessary during the project, through traffic is encouraged to use other routes, with 42nd Street being the primary north-south alternative.

McCormick said he wants to encourage shoppers to patronize merchants along the 45th Street corridor, even if it takes a few minutes longer.

Despite the hassle now, Qdoba's Hensrud said he's looking forward to the finished product.

"In the long term, it'll be better. It'll help businesses," Hensrud said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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