Dave Olson, Published October 30 2012
Refurbished interstate ramps set to reopen today in Moorhead
With those words, Moorhead business owner Bruce Bekkerus joined city officials and fellow business owners Tuesday in marking the reopening of two Interstate 94 interchange ramps that closed in late 2010 when the new 34th Street South interchange opened.
The rebuilt ramps once again allow quick interstate access to and from businesses on Moorhead’s Southeast Main Avenue/Highway 52, including the nearby Menards store.
Tuesday’s event returned smiles to the faces of Moorhead business owners and City Council members who were angered when federal authorities forced the closing of the ramps under a policy that frowns on freeway exits operating too close to each other.
Heavy lobbying from the city reversed that decision, and the closed ramps were reconditioned to meet current highway codes before they reopened Tuesday.
They include an interstate off-ramp serving eastbound traffic and an interstate on-ramp for westbound traffic.
Two loops that had been part of the old interchange were not rebuilt, partly due to their low levels of traffic, Moorhead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said.
Bekkerus, owner of A-1 Automotive and Transmission just off Southeast Main Avenue, called the revamped ramps “a huge thing for all of these businesses to have this economic access again.”
He said more than 100 businesses were affected by the ramp closings and almost 800 people who work in Moorhead’s industrial park had to change the way they got to work.
“This is the largest economic development to happen in Moorhead in some time,” Bekkerus said. “I know all the local neighbors are thrilled to have a safer way to get home and reduced commute time.”
Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said the reopening of the ramps was the conclusion of 20 years’ worth of street and interchange improvement projects in the area that carried a total price tag of about $45 million.
Voxland said over the past 20 years a series of City Councils and elected officials on the state and federal levels made the projects possible.
According to information provided by city officials, about $27 million of the funding came from the federal government, $2 million from the state government and $16 million from local government.
The cost of the new 34th Street interchange alone was $25.5 million. The refurbishing of the two old ramps was another $2 million, approximately.
“The last piece of the entire 34th Street corridor project that started two decades ago are these two ramps we’re standing on now,” Voxland said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555
Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send a letter to the editor.