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Grand Forks City Council members to hear updates on major transportation projects on Monday, Feb. 7

City leaders have long been discussing the interchange and underpass projects, both meant to alleviate traffic in the city

Grand Forks City Hall
Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. 4th St. Sam Easter / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Updates on two transportation projects that have been on the city’s to-do list will be up for discussion at next week's City Council meeting.

The two projects — an interchange at 47th Avenue South and I-29, along with an underpass project that proposes to tunnel 42nd Street underneath a set of railroad tracks — have been discussed by city leaders for several years. They have not been prioritized by the city, City Council President Dana Sande said.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, at City Hall.

“We’ve been priming our legislators for several years on those projects being our top priorities,” Sande said.

However, the projects haven’t made their way to the top of the list in Bismarck the past couple of legislative sessions. Sande said city leaders are awaiting the next legislative session, in 2023, to see if the projects are prioritized.

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Along with other projects taking the top priority in the past years, there also have been issues getting the funding needed for both projects.

“We only have so much money and a project of that magnitude we need state and/or federal money to help us,” Sande said about the underpass project. As the projects haven't topped the priority list in the past couple of legislative sessions, it means the city hasn’t been able to receive the recommended funding from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

City Administrator Todd Feland said both projects will be intertwined with federal, state and local funding adding, “so we really have got to work together with the state DOT.”

The federal government is involved in the interchange project as it is considered a federal, state and local project because of its location. The proposed underpass at 42nd Street and DeMers is considered a state and local project.

Feland said that since both projects are partnered with the North Dakota DOT, the city will “want to keep them up-to-date so that we have made progress and make sure we keep them engaged as part of the project progress.”

Both projects are well into environmental reviews, Feland said, and the city is looking to move forward with the project designs possibly next year, with the potential of construction starting within the next five years.

Sande said he hears about the need for a grade separation underpass on 42nd Street and DeMers Avenue from residents weekly. If completed t he underpass will help alleviate the amount of traffic that gets stopped by trains on the southwestern corner of UND, something Sande sees as getting worse.

“The (Burlington Northern Santa Fe company) has not only been increasing the number of trains that are coming through town, they’re also making them longer,” Sande said. “So the disruptions to traffic at DeMers and 42nd have been getting more often and more disruptive.”

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When it comes to the I-29 interchange at the intersection of 47th Avenue South, Sande said he doesn’t hear as many comments from the public, but he believes that's because “what we have now, it’s not problematic.”

A new interchange will help lessen the amount of traffic on 32nd Avenue South as it will give drivers another option to enter or exit the interstate.

Related Topics: TRAFFIC AND CONSTRUCTION
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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