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By Mary Jo Almquist, Published August 12 2002

Another lane to open on 13th Avenue

Fargo motorists will gain another eastbound driving lane on 13th Avenue South as early as Thursday.

Just last week, the North Dakota Department of Transportation removed head-to-head traffic in the 13th Avenue construction zone by opening an additional westbound lane.

The extra westbound lane also allowed the loop ramp from eastbound 13th Avenue South to northbound Interstate 29 to be re-opened after being closed since mid-June.

NDDOT project coordinator Kevin Gorder said he expects the additional eastbound lane to open by the end of the week.

"There's still a lot to be done, but we're trying to get things open as soon as possible," Gorder said. "As always, everything depends on the weather."

Northern Improvement Co., lead contractor for the $23.6 million I-29 renovation project, is not required to have two lanes of traffic open in each direction on 13th Avenue until Sept. 28.

"We've made good progress and will have this done early," said Greg McCormick, Northern Improvement project coordinator. "That will mean we have completed all of our interim completion dates."

Progress also is being made on the interstate itself, McCormick said. Starting this week, crews will begin paving I-29, beginning with the one-mile stretch running from 32nd Avenue to Interstate 94.

"We have a lot of paving to do," he said. "The good thing, though, is that being on the interstate, we now have wide-open spaces to get things done."

With several weeks of concrete paving ahead, McCormick said the public should expect to see a lot more truck-traffic around the construction zone, especially traveling along 45th Street.

Once paving is complete, which McCormick expects to happen by mid-September, there are other details, such as bringing soil to road level and placing overhead signs, which will need to be done before the I-29 project is considered done.

"These details take time, too," he said. "We're still in pretty good shape, though."

The 2002 phase of the I-29 project must be complete no later than Nov. 1. McCormick said he is pushing to get done even sooner. Last year, the mandatory completion date was Oct. 15, but workers finished Sept. 4.

"Almost always, the second year goes better, and I would say things have been about the same," McCormick said. "We have our work cut out for us this year, but we like a challenge."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531