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Downtown parking ramp reopens

Grand Forks officially re-opened the Central Parking Ramp downtown Friday after a monthlong construction project that aimed to make it cleaner and safer.

Grand Forks officially re-opened the Central Parking Ramp downtown Friday after a monthlong construction project that aimed to make it cleaner and safer.

"Once you see it at night, you won't believe the difference," said Joe O'Neil, construction compliance officer with Grand Forks Urban Development. "People should feel a lot safer coming to park here."

Renovations to the ramp include new lighting fixtures, a fresh coat of paint over rusted steel beams and new signs.

Before the improvements, people using the ramp complained that dark corners made the ramp feel less safe, O'Neil said.

"People were afraid to use it," he said. But the changes, he said, should make a difference. "Hopefully, now people are going to want to use it."

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The renovations cost about $190,000, O'Neil said. The ramp is open for use, but there are a few things that still need to be finished in the updating project, including placing a few signs and exit light fixtures.

Next year, further improvements -- changing the sidewalk to the north of the ramp and placing benches at either northern corner -- will be made, O'Neil said.

Meanwhile, the city also has added diagonal parking in the downtown area, according to Jane Williams, city traffic engineer.

Williams said that because there have been some minor changes to the overall plan for improving parking downtown, she doesn't know exactly how many spaces were created.

"We had to make a few adjustments for fire hydrants and that sort of thing, so now we need to go back and actually count the spaces to find out exactly how many more we have," she said.

Not converted parking areas

Some areas, such as the area on Fourth Street near the city bus station, were not converted to diagonal parking because of the high amount of traffic passing through, according to Williams.

"We went block by block and looked at each block to determine if diagonal parking would fit. We put safety first, to see if it would work or not," she said.

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One area she said they'll pay special attention to is by Central High School, where diagonal parking was added on streets bordering the high school, and six formerly two-hour parking spaces are being converted into a loading zone for parents picking up their children.

"We've had some concerns around the school, but anytime there are any changes around a school, we are always concerned," she said. "We want to make sure people realize there have been changes."

Reach Nadeau at (701) 780-1118; (800) 477-6572, ext. 118; or send e-mail to snadeau@gfherald.com .

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