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Published April 23 2012

Growth fuels Veterans Boulevard plans

WEST FARGO – Veterans Boulevard might still be an infant, but it’s about to go through a huge growth spurt over the next couple decades.

Officials are already planning to expand the 3-year-old roadway south of Interstate 94 in order to meet the demands of explosive growth in southern areas of Fargo and West Fargo.

A new transit study projects that traffic flows on Veterans Boulevard should at least triple by 2035 and could reach nearly 31,000 vehicles per day at the busiest stretch.

That amount of traffic would easily rival, if not outright surpass, traffic volumes seen today on Fargo’s main thoroughfares like University Drive, 13th Avenue South and 25th Street.

Expanding Veterans Boulevard to accommodate such growth could cost $40 million in necessary construction over the coming decades.

Last summer, consultants for the F-M Metro Council of Governments added Veterans Boulevard to their comprehensive study of the Ninth Street corridor, which has long been one of West Fargo’s busiest arterials.

Ninth Street and Veterans Boulevard are linked by the I-94 interchange. Ninth Street is north of I-94, while Veterans Boulevard runs south.

With new schools, a major medical center, shopping centers and residential subdivisions planned off Veterans Boulevard, transit officials wanted to reassess the expected growth and its impact on traffic patterns as part of their outlook for the corridor that borders Fargo’s west and West Fargo’s east in some parts.

In all, MetroCOG officials analyzed the eight-mile stretch between Cass County Highway 20 on the north and 40th Avenue South, with particular emphasis on the southern end, where growth is the greatest.

Area residents are invited to an open house tonight to hear more about the draft study and plans transit officials have.

The 80-page report lays out recommendations for how the corridor should look in the future in order to best accommodate the projected traffic demands.

Fargo and West Fargo would both have to acquire more right-of-way in order to expand Ninth Street and Veterans Boulevard.

Transit officials predict no properties would be impacted; however some businesses might need to relocate their signs.

Starting from the south end of the corridor, here’s what the study recommends for Veterans Boulevard and Ninth Street East:

Planning ahead, transit officials estimate it could cost more than $40 million over the next couple decades to make all the changes necessary for Ninth Street and Veterans Boulevard to handle the expected traffic demands.

Some of that work is already starting this summer with the planned addition of a new traffic signal at 23rd Avenue South, which will help guide traffic near the CostCo store that’s set to open this fall.

In 2013, Fargo and West Fargo are looking to spend nearly $9 million to widen Veterans Boulevard between 32nd and 40th Avenues in preparation for the extra school traffic.

Then, in 2015, the Ninth Street intersection at 12th Avenue North will be upgraded, as part of a city-county effort to reconstruct 12th Avenue between County Road 19 and 45th Street in Fargo.

The Ninth Street intersection there will get new traffic-control devices, potentially a roundabout, the study states.

Officials recommend that more than 10 years from now, Veterans Boulevard should be widened at its most popular stretch south of the interchange, between 32nd Avenue and I-94.

Metro traffic vehicle counts

Here’s a sampling of some of the most commonly traveled areas in Fargo and West Fargo, as of 2010:

Source: North Dakota Department of Transportation

If you go

What: Public meeting on Ninth Street / Veterans Boulevard corridor study

When: 5-7 p.m. tonight (Presentation begins at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: Moore Engineering, 925 10th Ave. E. in West Fargo.

Info: Contact MetroCOG at (701) 232-3242 or log on to www.fmmetrocog.org.

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

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