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Mike Nowatzki, Published August 13 2009

State scraps West Fargo bridge

Officials have scrapped plans to replace the Main Avenue bridge over the Sheyenne River in West Fargo this year, saying there’s not enough time to redesign and finish the project after it hit a roadblock in June.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation planned to replace the bridge with a box culvert.

But a flume built to divert the river around the bridge during construction began to shift in loose soils, halting the project.

The DOT began working with the city, general contractor Dakota Underground and subcontractor Industrial Builders to see whether they could replace the bridge with a new bridge instead of a box culvert, which would take longer because of having to stabilize the flume.

But they ran out of time, said Kevin Gorder, assistant engineer for the DOT’s Fargo district. The prospect of late-season bridge work, trying to control ice and snow on the frontage road, impacts to businesses and traffic, the estimated higher cost and a 30-day wait for a permit convinced officials to scrap the project.

“It just made sense, because we weren’t going to get it done this year,” West Fargo City Administrator Jim Brownlee said.

Both the box culvert and bridge are still on the table as the parties continue to meet to decide which option to build and when to build it, Gorder said.

The bridge could be replaced as early as next year or as late as 2015, during the final leg of the three-phase Main Avenue reconstruction project, Gorder said. The project’s second phase, from DMI Industries to 45th Street in Fargo, is slated for 2012.

In the meantime, the existing bridge will be left in place. Its condition is rated as “structurally deficient,” but it’s still safe for motorists, Gorder said.

“We’ll continue to watch it,” he said.

The DOT will absorb the roughly $153,000 cost of building the flume, which is being removed, he said.

With the bridge work scrapped this year, the transition from the newly paved Main Avenue lanes to the old lanes will now be east of the Sheyenne River instead of west, he said.

Main Avenue traffic to shift today

Starting today, crews will shift traffic from the frontage road onto the new Main Avenue pavement between Morrison Street and Third Street East in West Fargo, the North Dakota Department of Transportation said.

Traffic will remain on the frontage road at the far ends of the project – east of Sixth Street West to Morrison Street and from Third Street East to the east end of the project. East-west traffic will continue to be one lane in each direction through the entire project.

On Monday, crews will start to remove the frontage road just east of Sheyenne Street and proceed east. Sheyenne will remain open, but motorists should watch for flaggers and use caution, the DOT said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528