Greater Grand Forks councils to keep discussing proposed bridge projects after agreement fails

East Grand Forks City Administrator David Murphy said after the Grand Forks council decision, East Grand Forks council members will need to talk about the next steps moving forward at a future work session meeting

071222 32nd Ave.jpg
A street sweeper makes its way east on 32nd Ave. S. past Belmont Road Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Just in the distance is one of the proposed sites for a new bridge across the Red River.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
We are part of The Trust Project.

GRAND FORKS — City councils in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks are set to have further discussion regarding two proposed bridges, one within the cities and another just south of town, after an agreement for scoping services failed in a 4-3 vote at the most recent Grand Forks City Council meeting.

Just last week, East Grand Forks council members voted in favor of approving the agreement with SRF Consulting Group, Inc. to complete the scoping phase on both bridges, and split the total cost of $151,170 for those services evenly with Grand Forks.

East Grand Forks City Administrator David Murphy said after the Grand Forks council decision on Monday, East Grand Forks council members will need to talk about the next steps. They'll likely do so at a future work session.

Murphy said some Grand Forks council members have shown opposition toward the proposed bridge during previous meetings, but he wasn't sure how council members ultimately would vote.

“At all the meetings we’ve had there’s always been some voicing of opposition, but how pervasive it was we weren’t really sure until the vote came out,” he said.


Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said further discussion among Grand Forks council members is anticipated to happen at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Some of the council members who voted "no" during the Nov. 21 meeting said they would be in favor of the agreement if the scoping work was only going toward the Merrifield bridge.

Council member Danny Weigel is one of those council members. While Weigel said that he’s heard support from people on both sides of the river regarding the Merrifield bridge, he hasn’t heard that same support for a bridge directly between the cities. During Monday’s meeting, Weigel said both cities have yet to agree on a location for the bridge.

“It makes sense to put funding to look at some of those things, but what I have not heard from this group or the other group across the river is what we agree on as far as an inter-city bridge,” Weigel said during the meeting. “Everybody has their own opinion and own thoughts, or interpret the data differently on where the best inter-city bridge is. If we can’t come to an agreement on where that should be, why are we putting money into it?”

Murphy said East Grand Forks council members still need to consider the idea of only pursuing the scoping services on the Merrifield bridge, as they haven’t talked about it previously.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Steve Gander offered words of support for Grand Forks city leaders after their decision to move away from the proposed Fufeng corn mill.

The cost share for the consulting services will also need to continue being discussed among council members. In East Grand Forks, council members approved a 50/50 cost split so both cities would pay $75,585. In Grand Forks, a four-way cost split — factoring in both counties — has been proposed. Feland said including the counties into the cost share makes sense because the Merrifield bridge is a county-led project.

Murphy said he has spoken with the Polk County administrator about the cost split, but he’s not aware if county commissioners have discussed it at a commission meeting. The Merrifield bridge project is set to be on the Grand Forks County Commission's agenda during their Dec. 5 meeting.

The possibility of having another joint meeting between both councils is also going to be discussed in the near future according to Murphy. The last time both councils met in a joint meeting to talk about the two bridges was in July.

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 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
What To Read Next
Burkholder: Average daily population at the correctional center has increased by 30% in past 15 years.
The meeting was streamed online on Monday
Between opinion pieces and stories, more than 200 articles have been published on the Herald about the project
“The Department of the Air Force deferred to the Department of the Treasury during the (CFIUS) review to assess potential risks associated with the proposed project,” the spokesperson said.