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Erik Burgess, Published March 27 2013

MnDOT expects to start Moorhead Main Avenue repair project in May

MOORHEAD – Break out the orange cones and dust off the hardhats. Construction season is approaching.

A much-anticipated $4.8 million Minnesota Department of Transportation repair project on Main Avenue in Moorhead from the Red River to Eighth Street is scheduled to start on May 20 and extend into September.

The project was supposed to begin last summer, but was rebid because the only bid received came in too high.

Four new traffic signals will also be installed on Main Avenue downtown, and engineers said they will work with the city to improve signal timing at railroad crossings.

Jesse Miller, a project engineer, said to expect lane closures similar to last summer.

“We’re going to try to impact it as least we can, but we gotta get in there and get the work done,” he said.

The Moorhead project is part of a $75 million District 4 construction schedule announced this morning by state Department of Transportation officials. Twelve west-central Minnesota counties are in District 4, including Clay, Becker, Wilkin and Otter Tail.

MnDOT typically spends between $35 million and $50 million during a construction season in District 4. Funds are evenly split between state and federal dollars this year, District Engineer Jody Martinson said during a news conference.

“It is a pretty significant jump for projects in our area,” she said. “We’re going to be very busy.”

About 9 miles of eastbound Interstate 94 will be resurfaced from Downer to Barnesville, which will cost an estimated $10 million. The project is scheduled to run from June through October, with traffic being reduced to one lane in each direction.

About seven miles of high-tension cable barriers along I-94 will be installed near Moorhead this summer, and 10 miles will be put up near Alexandria.

The barriers, which are placed in the median to keep vehicles from accidentally crossing into oncoming traffic, will cost about $2.3 million. Work will start in May and run through June, and lanes and shoulders will be closed.

Also scheduled for this summer is a 12-mile resurfacing of Highway 75 from Clay County Road 12 south of Moorhead to the Wilkin County line. It will cost an estimated $3.25 million and should begin in August.

The intersection of Clay County roads 31 and 33 in Hawley will be modified and a traffic signal will be installed. That work should start in July and will cost $2.3 million.

District engineers this morning emphasized that lanes will be closed in many cases, and asked motorists to remain patient, especially as summer traffic picks up in lakes country and along I-94.

“We just ask the traveling public to slow down and pay attention,” Trudy Kordosky said.

Martinson said some of the projects are still awaiting bids, but she doesn’t anticipate any problems with finding firms to complete the ambitious schedule.

She also said a potential spring flood on the Red River will be a “key factor” in starting projects on time.

Across the state, MnDOT is planning 337 projects at a cost of $1.1 billion. Officials said it’s a “pretty aggressive program,” but the budget is on par for recent years.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518