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Heidi Shaffer, Published November 03 2010

Fargo considers further study of one-ways

Fargo is considering whether to move forward on a study of converting downtown’s NP and First avenues into two-ways.

The city has already spent about $250,000 on the issue over the past two years, but a steering committee wants further study of design, cost and concerns brought forward in public discussions.

Benesch Consultants, formerly HWS Consultants of Omaha, Neb., was hired to study the conversion and is recommending the city change the avenues to include two lanes in the current direction of traffic and one lane traveling the opposite way.

Further study will likely cost an additional $25,000 to $50,000, said Jeremy Gorden, Fargo traffic engineer.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted on Tuesday to move forward with further examination.

“On the face of it, it sounds very interesting and worth pursuing,” said planning Chairman John Q. Paulsen.

The existing study shows, by examining other cities’ experiences with conversions, downtown Fargo could see as much as

$92 million in economic impacts as a result of going with a two-way.

The streets will also be more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, according to the study.

Randy Thorson, owner of downtown’s CI Sports, Old Broadway and JL Beers, sits on the steering committee.

“We’ve got a big stake in downtown, so I want to make certain it’s (done) right,” Thorson said.

The city needs to do further study on congestion and how freight deliveries will work on a two-way, Thorson told planning commissioners.

City staff generally favors the two-and-one option, but more in-depth design work is needed, said Planning Director Jim Gilmour.

The City Commission will weigh in on continuing the study in the next month or so, but an endorsement of the suggested street configuration could take another six months, Gorden said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511