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Spruced-up Broadway opens up

The first phase of a downtown Fargo construction project is expected to wrap up next week, but the fourth-coldest October in the city's history means some streets won't get their final paving until next spring.

The first phase of a downtown Fargo construction project is expected to wrap up next week, but the fourth-coldest October in the city's history means some streets won't get their final paving until next spring.

Asphalt overlays will be delayed on Main Avenue from Seventh Street to the Island Park parking ramp and on Sixth Street one block south of Main Avenue.

Motorists needn't worry, though, said Jim Lee, manager of Nodak Contracting, the project's general contractor.

"The paving that is there will hold up nicely through the winter," he said.

The reconstruction of Broadway and its sidewalks between First Avenue South and First Avenue North was the first phase of a three-year,

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$8 million project.

Broadway is now open, with only parking stall striping remaining, said Kristi Schmidt, city engineer for the project.

South of Main Avenue, workers are nearly finished rebuilding the sidewalks along Sixth Avenue. Crews were waiting for streetlight wiring to arrive, and Lee said he expected the street to reopen Thursday or today.

Starting Tuesday, 7-foot-high columns will be erected at the four corners of Broadway and NP Avenue. Each column will have a 400-pound iron shaft covered in colored stone. Laser-printed artwork on aluminum plating will decorate all sides of the columns.

Transportation will be the art's theme at NP Avenue.

"It really ties in with the rail background of the community," said Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership.

The Partnership is working with the Plains Art Museum and area artists to design artwork for similar columns at Broadway and First Avenue, to be installed next spring.

Broadway will be cleaned before the holiday shopping season, though the dirt-filled nodes at the corners of the intersections will remain unplanted through winter, Anderson said.

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Contractors will have until June 15 to plant the trees and shrubberies, Lee said.

The first-phase completion goal was Oct. 31, but inclement weather and construction setbacks convinced the city to grant an extension.

The project involved replacing underground utilities and sewer lines, and crews found several obstacles. Whether it was basements encroaching into the street right of way, drains with unknown sources or old, fragile ducts, there seemed to be a roadblock "every time you stick the shovel in the ground," Lee said.

And, of course, there's the weather. Frost was 6 to 8 inches deep on some October mornings, Schmidt said.

"It's pretty much slowed down construction," she said. "You have to cover everything with insulating blankets where you want to pour concrete."

Those problems and minor change orders pushed the first phase over its $3.1 million budget, but by how much won't be known until work is done next spring, Schmidt said.

Broadway businesses have been patient and cooperative throughout the construction process, despite a loss in business, Lee and Anderson said.

"It hasn't been the kind of thing where it was seen as a detriment," Anderson said. "The businesses were really looking forward to having the work done.

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"They're all obviously very glad to have the cars and people on the sidewalks again."

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

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