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Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Board members discuss next steps, funding for intercity bridge

Staff from state's Department of Transportation attended the meeting to discuss the bridge project

East Grand Forks tower sign logo.jpg
A water tower in East Grand Forks, Minn. (Grand Forks Herald photo)

EAST GRAND FORKS – Members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Policy Board on Wednesday discussed updates for a potential bridge project that could someday add a fourth link between Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Plans for the new span over the Red River have been frequently discussed by members of the MPO’s boards throughout the past months. Feedback received from the Future Bridge Traffic Impact Study indicated a desired bridge location on Grand Forks' 32nd Avenue.

Staff from the North Dakota and Minnesota departments of transportation and Federal Highway Administration were present during Wednesday’s meeting.

Several board members asked about what the next steps should be in order to move forward with the project.

“What are the processes that we need to make sure are done so if this is a plan, how do we get it to reality?” board member and East Grand Forks City Council member Marc DeMers asked.

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There also were questions about funding.

Kristen Sperry, from the Federal Highway Administration, said grants could be pursued. Most of the grants are application-based, directly though the federal government and not through the state’s DOT. The grants could also be applied to project development, including preliminary engineering.

Board members and Grand Forks City Councilman Ken Vein asked who will determine which city will take the lead, and how that determination might influence funding.

Wayne Zacher, of the NDDOT, said it would be up to the cities to determine the leader.

“Being a local structure, that would be a local determination,” Zacher said.

As for funding, Zacher said MnDOT mostly uses state funds for preliminary work and federal funds for construction, whereas NDDOT uses federal funds throughout the process.

Board member Warren Strandell said the final decision for the bridge ultimately is in the hands of both city councils.

“I think our position is possibly to pass on the study information and make a recommendation,” Strandell said.

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 MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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