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Orange barrels ahead: Big Grand Forks road projects set for 2018

A section of Washington Street, from DeMers Ave. to Hammerling Drive, is one of several streets scheduled for construction this season. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

A fresh blanket of snow makes it harder to tell, but Grand Forks' growing number of potholes is a rough reminder that warmer weather is creeping back into the calendar—and as the sun comes out and temperatures rise, pothole season will soon give way to orange barrel and construction season.

There are a slate of projects around the city that will begin updating roads and disrupting traffic soon. That includes plenty of minor resurfacing projects throughout the city as well as significant work along Mill Road, where detours are expected as the State Mill and Elevator adds a new rail spur.

But there are a few projects that are both bigger than the rest and on some of the city's largest roads. Here's a look at a few:

Washington Street

Washington Street between Hammerling Avenue and Eighth Avenue North is set for resurfacing this summer. According to city documents, the roadway "severely deteriorated" in recent months, leading city and state officials to move repairs ahead of schedule.

That means a $1.2 million project to resurface perhaps the busiest part of Washington Street will unfold this summer, likely in late summer.

"It won't take very long," City Engineer Al Grasser said. "It's going to be a pretty simple mill-and-overlay project. I'd probably guess that we'd give them a month or two window, but actual construction time will probably be less than that."

Grasser said the project will likely affect less traffic than a full reconstruction, with no fewer than one lane of traffic in each direction and a turn lane available at all times.

The total project cost will be split between city, state and federal dollars, with local funds paying about $120,000 of the tab.

42nd Street

One of the most notoriously bumpy roads in the city is on North 42nd Street, where a reconstruction project is set from University Avenue to Gateway Drive. The street's reputation is such that, when city officials launched their campaign to raise the city's sales tax, they did it along just that stretch of road—cars rattling over potholes beside them.

Reconstruction will proceed in sections closed to through traffic, beginning "right away when the frost is out of the ground," Grasser said, with an eye to be finished this fall.

The $6.4 million project will see significant federal investment, driving local cost down to about $1.8 million.

47th Avenue South

A reconstructed road and brand new street lights are set for 47th Avenue South in a roughly $1.47 million construction project spanning an area from South 20th Street to Columbia Road, building street lights, a third lane and other amenities.

The project is expected to begin after the end of the school year and finish before classes resume, Grasser said. He added property owners near this district will see the benefits of the newly increased city sales tax. Those nearby will be assessed for 20 percent of the project, instead of the 40 percent they would have seen prior to the increase.

City dollars and special assessments will pay the entirety of the project, which is expected to close the road through the summer.

Kennedy Bridge

Construction will continue this summer at the Kennedy Bridge, where workers will continue a project well in excess of $20 million to refurbish the bridge. Last year saw the replacement of a bridge pier, new paint on parts of the bridge and plenty of fresh concrete.

Traffic on the bridge is expected to stay restricted to one lane in each direction through much of the remainder of the project, the bulk of which lasts until late this year.

East Grand Forks

East Grand Forks Public Works Director Jason Stordahl said area residents could see multiple projects soon, with total project costs potentially rising well into six figures. But no projects have been finalized yet, he said, making timelines hard to predict.

Potential projects include a new median and pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Bygland Road and 13th Street Southeast as well as a resurfacing project on the east side of the Point Bridge, among others.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108