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Motorists adjust to just one bridge

Grand Forks was listed among cities with the shortest commute by the U.S. Census in November. That data came from 2006 through 2008, years when the Red River didn't rise and force the closure of two of three bridges linking Grand Forks and East G...

Kennedy Bridge traffic
A stream of early morning commuters proceed west into Grand Forks over the Kennedy Bridge on U.S. Highway 2 from East Grand Forks Friday, a day after the Sorlie and Point Bridges closed. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Grand Forks was listed among cities with the shortest commute by the U.S. Census in November.

That data came from 2006 through 2008, years when the Red River didn't rise and force the closure of two of three bridges linking Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

But the past two springs, that less-than-15-minute commute has doubled and sometimes tripled as the Sorlie and Point bridges have closed, forcing many to use the Kennedy Bridge on U.S. Highway 2

Roger LeBlanc lives in Grand Forks and travels down Gateway Drive to work at American Crystal Sugar in East Grand Forks.

"It took 45 minutes from work to home, and it's usually an 11-minute drive," LeBlanc said Friday.

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Officials on both sides said motorists appeared to be adjusting Friday morning, which was accident free.

"We've had no complaints of backlogs," said Sgt. Tom O'Laughlin with the Grand Forks Police Department.

"The lights have been taking care of traffic pretty well," said Sgt. Steve Demers, East Grand Forks police. "That allows officers to keep an eye on other flood-related things."

The traffic has been heaviest during the peak periods of 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. Access to Gateway Drive/Highway 2 from North Third Street is being detoured to North Fifth Street.

At 3:20 p.m. Friday, northbound traffic on North Fifth Street waiting to turn east onto Gateway Drive was frequently backed up to 11th Avenue North, westbound traffic on Gateway was backed up from North Fifth Street to North Fourth Street, and eastbound traffic on Gateway was, at times, backed up two traffic lights, past North Washington Street to North 20th Street.

About 40 vehicles were getting through east and west during each Gateway green light, while about 10 motorists turned east at the signal change.

Foy Cox, Grand Forks, had been across the river visiting a friend.

"I've been caught in it twice, but that's the way it has to be," Cox said. "Getting here's been a hassle, but it's better than a flood."

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Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohn-son2@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: 2010 FLOODS
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