After indicating that he intended to veto city spending on a bridge over the Red River at 32nd Avenue, Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said on Friday that he doesn’t intend to do so for a hydraulic study there.
“I think getting information is maybe part of how we get to where we need to be,” Brown told the Herald. “But I do feel we’re spending money on options that won’t happen because those neighborhoods were promised that they would not be the site of an inner-city bridge.”
If the City Council wants to pursue a study at 32nd, Brown said, “we can pursue it.”
The study would consider how a bridge there, or other potential structures at Elks Drive and 47th Avenue, would affect the river’s flow. The Metropolitan Planning Organization asked Grand Forks and East Grand Forks to pay for studies at those three locations after learning the federal government wouldn’t foot the bill.
Each hydraulic study would cost an estimated $30,000 per location. East Grand Forks City Council members have thus far agreed to pay for their half of the studies at Elks and 32nd, but their Grand Forks counterparts have stopped short of apportioning any money for the project. In October, Grand Forks City Council members voted 5-1 to direct city engineers to draft a “scope of work” for a study of all three locations and put out a request for the qualifications of firms that might conduct it.
The tentative plan would have East Grand Forks pay for half of the Elks Drive and 32nd Avenue studies. Grand Forks would pay for the other half of those two, plus the entirety of the one at 47th, which is beyond East Grand Forks’ levy system and its southernmost development.
At present, three bridges over the Red River connect the two cities. The location of a proposed fourth bridge has been a longstanding and sometimes contentious issue in Grand Cities politics.
Brown indicated in July that he would veto city spending on a 32nd Avenue bridge. He said he prefers to put it at 47th Avenue, which runs through a less developed part of town and was designed to be an arterial street.
“Our city is designed for 47th, and that’s just what the reality is,” Brown said. “That’s how things are.”
Council members can override a mayoral veto if five of them vote to do so. The vote on the study’s scope was 5-1 in favor, but Brown said a potential override wasn’t a factor in his thinking because “that neighborhood will be in City Council, in force, to express their concerns.”