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By Mary Jo Almquist, Published September 02 2002

The end is near: Summer highway construction projects wrapping up

Summer is on its way out, and the end of Fargo's road construction season isn't far behind.

The $23.6 million Interstate 29 renovation project, which started in March, is nearly finished with two months left to go before the mandatory Nov. 1 completion date.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is hoping to finish early, though, according to NDDOT project coordinator Kevin Gorder.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Gorder said. "Before we started, I was thinking it would be a challenge to get the project this far along, so it's a big accomplishment."

Northern Improvement Co., lead contractor for the project, also was the contractor for the 2001 phase of the I-29 project.

For each day they finish ahead of the Nov. 1 schedule, a $20,000 incentive bonus is applied. The maximum they can receive, however, is $800,000, Gorder said.

"When you accelerate a schedule you increase the costs," he said. "We've budgeted for that. Basically, we just want to get things done as soon as we can."

The NDDOT is aiming to have drivers on the new I-29 roadway by Sept. 12, Gorder said. After that, there's a lot of electrical work to be done, such as traffic signals, he said.

Rain slowed down workers in their paving efforts this past week. Another challenge this summer has been on 36th Street between First Avenue North and Main Avenue.

"There was a spider-web of stuff under the ground," Gorder said. "We knew it was there, but we were hoping we wouldn't have to deal with it right away."

The following is a run-down of openings and closings in the I-29 construction zone:

- The Ninth Avenue South, 38th Street intersection is closed.

- The Texas turn and 38th Street south of West Acres parking lot is open.

- I-29 is head to head at 40 mph from Rose Coulee to north of Main Avenue.

- 13th Avenue South has two lanes eastbound and two lanes westbound.

- 38th Street from Ninth Avenue South to 13th Avenue South is now two-lanes.

- The southbound I-29 on- and off-ramps at 13th Avenue South are now open.

- Due to temporary railroad bridge construction, 36th Street between Main Avenue and First Avenue North is closed.

Road construction took the Labor Day weekend off but will resume work Tuesday.

"We'll keep plugging away," Gorder said. "Overall, it's been a good summer."

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