McFeely: It only seems like Moorhead underpass is taking forever to finish; it's actually longer
We kid only because we love and how can we not love Moorhead? The blue-collar city finally gets the dough for an underpass after 20-odd years of trying and now the thing might take 20-odd years to build.
MOORHEAD — Things that became obsolete since construction began on the railroad underpass near Moorhead High School:
- Horse and buggies.
- Quill pens.
- Robert Downey Jr.
Good news/bad news: The project has been going on so long that Downey Jr. is now back in vogue. Thank you, Marvel.
We kid, of course. It was Blockbuster Video that went extinct since the infamous 20th Ave./21st Street construction project began, not quill pens. Let's not get carried away.
And it is not true my daughter was a senior at Moorhead High when the first shovel went in the ground and is now a senior in college. One hundred percent false. She had just completed her junior year of high school and is only a junior at NDSU.
We kid only because we love and how can we not love Moorhead? The blue-collar city next to oh-so-glamorous Fargo finally gets the dough for an underpass after 20-odd years of trying and now the thing might take 20-odd years to build.
Sigh. Maybe by the time it's finished we'll get Duane's Pizza back.
City engineer Bob Zimmerman, a flood-protection genius and the most underappreciated man in Moorhead government, feels your pain. His daily commute was re-routed when underpass construction began in 1918 and he, like many Moorheaders, has forgotten what life was like in the Before Times.
Whoops. Did we say 1918? We meant 2018.
"It's been a long time, but it probably seems longer to people than it actually has been," Zimmerman said.
That's true, because it seems like Zachary Taylor was president when the streets near the high school were blocked, cutting off a busy north-south route through Moorhead.
Zimmerman says a number of roadblocks popped up to slow the project. They include bids that came in too high, forcing negotiations; a redesign of temporary railroad tracks; poor construction weather in 2019; soil instability problems; and locusts, pestilence and famine.
So a project that was originally slated to be finished by August 2020 won't be finished until the summer of 2022 at the earliest, stretching the work over five years, and who wants to bet on that date? Probably not the people who live in the nearby neighborhood, for whom the noise, dust and detours hit closest to home.
"Those are the people I feel the worst for because they have to deal with this every day," Zimmerman said. "But when it is finally done people will see that the pain was worth the wait."
Yes, a grand ribbon-cutting will be the perfect anesthetic.
Which, by the way, weren't yet invented when the underpass project first began.
Nor were antibiotics, which would've prevented President Taylor from dying shortly after digging started.
The good news is once 20th/21st is finished, it's likely work will soon begin on an underpass at 11th Street in downtown Moorhead . That will be another massive undertaking to take a busy street under two sets of railroad tracks.
Hopefully our great-grandchildren will fly back from their vacation on Mars to see the final results.