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By Charly Haley, Published April 18 2013

Changes to 25th Street South discussed at information meeting

FARGO – Officials here held a public information meeting Thursday about plans to reconstruct a section of 25th Street South.

The area of 25th Street between 17th Avenue South and 23rd Avenue South is facing significant traffic congestion and long delays, said Jeff Lansink, a civil engineer with Houston Engineering, the project’s lead consultant.

The city’s plan is to reconstruct that 0.8-mile stretch of 25th Street to better and more safely accommodate the traffic.

Lansink presented a few proposals to about 15 residents who attended the meeting at Fargo City Hall.

The “base proposal” is to reconstruct the section of 25th Street as a six-lane roadway with a raised median. This would involve widening the Interstate 94 overpass bridge, relocating utilities, moving the road closer to residential properties in the Prairiewood Crossing neighborhood and installing a composite fence between the neighborhood and the interstate.

This would improve traffic conditions, but does not address the high amount of crashes at the eastbound I-94 ramp near 18th Street South, Lansink said. It would cost a projected $8,856,365.

He then presented the options of adding on to the I-94 ramps, increasing safety. The projected cost with both add-ons would be $10,620,780.

The 25th Street project’s funding is 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent local funds, according to materials distributed at the meeting.

Jeremy Gorden, city traffic engineer, explained that the proposals are in a very early stage. They should go to the City Commission for approval by the end of May, he said, and after that, they’ll be sent to the North Dakota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The city will then hold a public hearing for final input or questions.

Some residents at Thursday’s meeting were concerned about the actual benefit of the project, and others wondered how it would affect the value of their properties.

A few were concerned about the composite fence, wondering if it would sufficiently block the noise that could be increased if the road is widened. Gorden offered to discuss design with Prairiewood’s neighborhood association, but also noted that a concrete noise wall would not be considered reasonable by the state’s standards.

Connie Nelson, who said she’s lived in Prairiewood Crossing for 23 years, questioned why the engineering design of 25th Street would have to be redone multiple times.

Nelson also noted that some of the data considered in the proposals is from 2008, before Davies High School was built, and so now Davies-area students aren’t using the 25th Street route anymore to get to Fargo South High School, which, she suggested, should decrease traffic. Gorden, Lansink and representatives of the Department of Transportation assured her their data is accurate.

If the proposal is approved, Gorden said they’d ideally bid the project in February 2014 and construction would be finished by September.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311