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The Valley Update

By: Liz Huwe

Changes are coming to Fargo… are you ready? We got the inside scoop on what to expect (or possibly dread) through our delightful construction and improvement season from Jim Gilmour, Fargo Planning Director, and Jeremy Gordon, Fargo Traffic Engineer.

1. NP and 1st Ave. Switch-up

NP and 1st Avenues have functioned as one-way streets for decades. This year, it’s all going to change. Both streets will be converted to a 2+1 configuration, Gilmour said. NP will have two lanes going east, one heading west. On 1st, the setup will be mirrored.

Work started in March to install the new “intelligent” traffic lights. Gordon said these signals will be specially programed to not allow left turns from 1st or NP during morning and evening peak hours. On NP Ave., lights will also be set to not allow left turns while a train passes.

This initial phase of the project (changing the lights, paint, signs) is expected to be done by Labor Day and will cost around $400,000. In a few years, both streets will be rebuilt to better work with the new configuration. Gilmour said the street reconstruction cost will be “in the millions.”

2. Hybrids for MAT Bus

Four new buses are joining the MAT Bus fleet. According to Gilmour, each newly-designed bus runs on a diesel-hybrid engine, is 40-feet-long and came with a price tag of $640,000. These new buses will be put to work on the most crowded routes, especially those connecting NDSU to Downtown Fargo.

3. Panera

This fall, Panera Bread, a bakery-style cafe, will open its first North Dakota eatery near West Acres. The Fargo Panera will feature newly designed production areas, allowing patrons to watch dough being shaped in the former Chili’s location. 

4. New Downtown Apartments

Want to live Downtown? Two new apartment buildings are on the way. One building, The Marks (Roberts St. and 4th Ave. N), will start leasing units in June. Construction is scheduled for another apartment complex on the south side of NP Ave., near the Plains Art Museum.
(For information on the Marks building, contact JM Rentals.)

5. Mickelson Field Levee

When the Red River floods, a temporary levee usually needs to be built along a section of Oak Street. This blocks traffic, creates headaches and leaves a big mess to be cleaned up later. The City of Fargo plans to build a permanent dike using part of Mickelson Field this year, said Gilmour, as long as a FEMA grant comes through.

6. University Dr. Bike Lane

This spring and summer, the city will finish the University Dr. bike lanes, further connecting NDSU to Downtown. University was wider than it needed to be, so the lanes were easy to add, said Gilmour.

7. I-94 Walking bridge

It’s hard not to notice the walking bridge straddling I-94 near the University Dr. exit. Sometime this summer, Gordon said, the light blue overpass is going to be repainted to the Bison favorite… forest green.  Expect some lanes of I-94 to be closed as this project starts.

8. Veterans Blvd.

Veterans Blvd is a five-lane corridor connecting South and West Fargo, except for one section where the road narrows to two lanes. Starting this month, the boulevard will be closed from 32nd to 40th avenues to be widened and match the rest of the street. Gordon said the construction is expected to be finished before school starts in August.

9. Water Treatment Expansion

What does it take to upgrade a city’s water treatment plant? For Fargo, it will be three years and $96 million. Gilmour said the project will treat an extra 15 million gallons per day and more efficiently remove sulfides and other minerals while purifying the water. 

10. Sanford Hospital

Sanford is hard at work constructing their South Fargo hospital. “It will be 10 stories, and about 900,00 square feet, total… about the size of West Acres, I think,” said Gilmour. These numbers are after the original plan was adjusted. Now, the clinic will stay on Broadway, and the new building will be hospital-space.

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