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Published November 28 2011

Fargo commissioners vote to convert downtown roadways to two-way traffic

FARGO – Say “goodbye” to downtown Fargo’s one-way thoroughfares.

After 10 years of discussion and scrutiny, city leaders voted Monday to convert two major roadways to accommodate two-way traffic.

Construction could start as early as 2013 to reconstruct and convert NP and First avenues, which have been one-way streets for more than half a century.

By a 3-to-1 vote, Fargo commissioners approved a recommendation that also had majority support from downtown businesses.

Commissioners Tim Mahoney, Brad Wimmer and Mike Williams backed the proposal, while Commissioner Dave Piepkorn opposed it.

Mayor Dennis Walaker was absent for Monday‘s meeting.

With too many details yet to be ironed out, Piepkorn said he couldn’t support the plan.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said, echoing concerns of business owners and others who work downtown.

Piepkorn said he doesn’t like the increased congestion two-way traffic will bring to downtown.

He also has concerns about designating bike lines next to two-way traffic on both NP and First avenues – both of which carry between 5,000 and 8,000 vehicles per day.

Fargo Senior Traffic Engineer Jeremy Gorden said details – like the exact design of the bike lanes –have yet to be determined.

Converting the avenues alone would cost about a half-million dollars, but necessary upgrades to century-old infrastructure and utilities buoy the cost up to at least $4 million.

Under the preferred “two-plus-one” proposal, each avenue would have two lanes in the current direction – westbound for First Avenue, eastbound for NP – and one lane in the opposite direction, as well as a bicycle lane.

Parking would also be available on both sides of the roadways.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541