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Double vision: Replacing signs on I-29 and Highway 2

Drivers on Interstate 29 in northeastern North Dakota might think they're suffering from double vision these days. But there's no need to get their eyes checked. Highway signs, such as "Grand Forks 1 Mile," have doubled up, one behind the other. ...

James Nelson
James Nelson, left, William Batchanzi and Rick Teachworth of Nationwide Construction Group unload a road sign along Interstate 29 in Grand Forks Tuesday. The construction workers are replacing road signs from the Canadian border to Buxton. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Drivers on Interstate 29 in northeastern North Dakota might think they're suffering from double vision these days.

But there's no need to get their eyes checked.

Highway signs, such as "Grand Forks 1 Mile," have doubled up, one behind the other. But it's just a temporary condition.

"We're updating the old signs that are past their useful life," said Les Noehre, the state Department of Transportation's Grand Forks district engineer.

NDDOT is replacing signs along I-29 and U.S. Highway 2 in its Grand Forks district, which stretches from Buxton, N.D., to the Canadian border and from Lakota, N.D., to the Minnesota border.

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Once all the signs are erected, the old, weathered signs will be removed, Noehre said.

The district started latest sign-replacement program during the summer. It is expected to finish the job yet this fall.

It is spending about $800,000 for its I-29 project and $380,000 for its U.S. 2 project, according to Noehre. The Federal Highway Administration is paying 80 percent and NDDOT 20 percent.

Replacement program

The state has a two-track sign replacement program for its 70,000-plus highway signs, according to NDDOT spokeswoman Peggy Anderson.

Warning and regulatory signs, such as speed limit, stop and curve ahead, are replaced every 10 years. On average, NDDOT replaces 4,000 signs a year with state funding, she said.

Other signs, such "Grand Forks 14 miles" and other distance and destination guides, are inspected and replaced when a highway construction project is completed. About 2,000 signs are replaced annually.

Signs also are replaced when they are damaged.

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On Tuesday, a seven-man crew from Nationwide Construction Group, based in Chesterfield, Mich., was replacing signs along I-29 southbound near Grand Forks.

The company is replacing about 1,000 signs in the Grand Forks district, including about 80 large signs, such as one of the 32nd Avenue South signs that went up Tuesday.

The crew bolted together separate sections of the sign, and then used a crane to lift it into place, sometimes fighting a gusty southerly wind.

"We've done 12 signs today," superintendent Bear Teachworth said, while crew members erected a sign between the DeMers Avenue and 32nd Avenue exits. "We'll work until the wind gets too strong, and that could be soon."

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send email to kbonham@gfherald.com .

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