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City Council members discuss DeMers Avenue construction options

Grand Forks City Hall (Herald photo/Sam Easter)

DeMers Avenue in downtown Grand Forks could be heading for a major overhaul subject to a coming decision of city leaders.

Members of the City Council's Committee of the Whole heard a presentation Monday of a handful of construction options for the street from the Sorlie Bridge up to Sixth Street. The road project would be the more intensive leg of a rehabilitation project that would also include a mill and overlay of North Fifth Street from DeMers Avenue to Gateway Drive. That secondary piece of the project would see work take place over a few weeks in 2019 for a sum of about $950,000, subject to fund availability. About 90 percent of that cost would be covered with state and federal dollars, leaving the city to pay out the last 10 percent.

That funding structure would also apply to the DeMers avenue portion of the project, which could go one of a handful of different ways. Michael Wilz, a transportation engineer for the North Dakota Department of Transportation design division, spelled out options ranging from a simple mill and overlay to a full reconstruction of the street, which would include a utility overhaul. The cost of the project could run from $350,000 to $6.5 million, with the latter price encompassing any one of three different choices for reconstruction.

All three reconstruction options came with full renovation of utilities and construction seasons of four to six months. Wilz said construction would begin in 2020, again subject to fund availability.

The mill and overlay option would be a relatively quick fix with just a week or two of construction. That choice would produce a road much the same as what exists now, but would likely only last for a 10-year design life. It would not include utility renovation.

All three reconstruction options, while much more expensive, would have a design life of closer to 30 years. Any of those options—all of which included an extended curb system designed for easier pedestrian crossings—would cost $6.5 million.

The road project will be discussed again at the Feb. 12 meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

Members of the public are asked to contribute their opinions at a meeting scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in the Grand Forks City Council Chambers in City Hall. More information can be found at the project website

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comment can be submitted until Jan. 24 to James Rath, program manager, Design Division, NDDOT at 608 East Boulevard Ave., Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0700. Emails may also be sent to with "Public Input Meeting" in the email subject heading.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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