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ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT: Why don’t Grand Forks stoplights flash at night?

Q. Why doesn’t Grand Forks have its stoplights flashing yellow or red late at night? I always assumed the city was too big for this until a recent late night venture lead me to Fargo, which follows the practice.

A. City Traffic Engineer Jane Williams listed several reasons for Grand Forks’ stoplight operations.

First off, drivers approaching on side streets may misinterpret the signal and pull out in front of another vehicle, she said. “We have had several crashes because a driver on the side street with a flashing red pulled out onto the main street thinking the main street had to also stop,” she said.

Another reason is emergency vehicle priority, Williams said. “If the signal is on flash, our emergency priority signal system does not work,” she said.

Also, when signals are flashing red or yellow, the pedestrian function is turned off, she said, so pedestrians must always yield when crossing the main street, which city officials deem as less safe.

“The city is responsible for providing services that will accommodate as many people as possible,” Williams said. “This includes traffic signals. Running the signals 24/7 is more efficient and safer.”

She added that if anyone sees a malfunctioning traffic signal, they should call the city’s information line at 311.

Q. If you move from East Grand Forks to Grand Forks, can you keep your Minnesota plates or vehicle registry? What if you move between the two cities more than once?

A. According to North Dakota Century Code, drivers who own or rent a home in North Dakota and live in that home for 90 consecutive days or more will  need to register and license their vehicles in the state, said Jamie Olson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Exceptions to this rule include college students. Those who live in Minnesota and commute to work in North Dakota are also exempt.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says that those living in Minnesota have 60 days after they move there to get their vehicles registered with the state.

Questions app

Also, anyone who has concerns to report directly to the city of Grand Forks may now do so at the city’s new website,, or on a smartphone with the new GF311 app, which can be found in the iPhone and Google Play app stores.

Otherwise, please continue sending questions to this column.


Call Haley at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1102; or send email to

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
(701) 780-1102