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Heidi Shaffer, Published May 30 2011

Fargo Park District looks at replacing bridges

FARGO – Installing two new pedestrian bridges across the Red River could cut down on the duration of closures because of flooding.

Fargo and Moorhead are hoping to install a new $1.1 million automated lift bridge between Lindenwood and Gooseberry parks and another between Oak Grove and Memorial parks over the next few years, said Dave Leker, director of parks in Fargo.

The existing bridges, built in 1977, remain out of commission after this spring’s flood and won’t likely go back in for another couple of weeks when the Red River falls below 16 or 17 feet, Leker said.

The Red, after this year’s spring flood, remains above minor flood stage of 18 feet.

The bridges are removed and reinstalled using a large crane, which often takes weeks to line up and costs each city about $2,000 a year, said Roger Gress, executive director of the Fargo Park District.

“With a crane, it’s almost impossible to respond quickly,” Gress said.

During summer floods, the bridges are often left in because there isn’t sufficient time to remove them, Leker said.

The new bridges could be raised in about 15 minutes and would be safe to a level of a 44-foot flood.

The Fargo Park District has wanted to upgrade to a bridge that can be elevated for at least 15 years, but it’s always come down to the cost, Gress said.

Eighty percent of the funding for the two bridges will likely come from federal aid, with the cities splitting the remaining 20 percent, documents show.

The Fargo Park District will pay $150,000 toward the two bridges, and the city of Fargo would pick up the remaining $231,000, Leker said.

If funding is lined up, the Lindenwood-Gooseberry bridge could be constructed in August 2012, and the Oak Grove-Memorial bridge would likely go in 2014.

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