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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 01 2009

Cities looking for a lift

Fargo and Moorhead may be at loggerheads over flood control fixes for the Red River, but they’re on the same page when it comes to building bridges.

About $1.5 million is being sought to replace the bike and pedestrian bridges over the Red that link Fargo’s Oak Grove Park and Moorhead’s Memorial Park on the north side, and Lindenwood Park and Gooseberry Park on the south side.

Officials want to install bridges with electrical lifts, so they can be easily raised before floods and lowered after. The bridge abutments also would be raised three feet, lighting added and approaches improved, said Dave Leker, director of parks for the Fargo Park District.

Leker said the planned changes would greatly increase the time the bridges are usable – perhaps by two or three months – and decrease damage due to flooding.

This year, for example, the bridges are still on their stanchions, and will be there another two weeks until a crane can be gotten to lower them into place, Leker said.

“This is kind of a perfect example of why they’d want to go with these automated bridges,” said Project Manager Rick Lane of Fargo’s SRF Consulting Group.

Leker said summertime floods also will be less of a concern.

“It would allow us to go down there at a moment’s notice” to lift bridges, he said.

Each city submitted one of the bridges for a federal stimulus grant earlier this year, but neither request made the cut, Leker and Lane said.

However, both cities are seeking other funds for the project, and the plans are being finalized so they will be “shovel ready” to compete in another round of stimulus grants this fall.

“We’re ready to go,” Lane said.

Lane said the planned bridges would be about 175 feet long. The current bridges are 150 feet long.

The electrical systems will be installed high enough to be well above the 100-year flood plain, he said. And lifting towers about 15 to 20 feet higher than the current stanchions will keep all mechanisms dry.

Lane said that if funding is only available for one bridge, that it’s likely the Lindenwood/Gooseberry bridge will be replaced first, because there is no other nearby crossing point for bikes or pedestrians on the south side.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583