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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 27 2013

Veterans Boulevard battle: Summerlong widening project begins Wednesday

WEST FARGO – A summerlong battle is ahead for southwest metro road warriors.

Veterans Boulevard between 32nd Avenue South and 40th Avenue South is being rebuilt and widened from a two-lane blacktop to five lanes – two lanes each way plus a turning lane.

The cities of Fargo and West Fargo will also redo the water and storm sewer lines on their respective sides of the road.

The project will be done in two phases, with Phase I work beginning Wednesday, said Dustin Scott, West Fargo assistant city engineer.

Phase I work includes the stretch between 32nd and 36th avenues south, Scott said.

The road south of 36th Avenue South will stay open for Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, 800 40th Ave. E., while classes are in session, he said.

“Once school is out, sometime the first week of June, we’ll close the second section,” Scott said.

Veterans Boulevard carries about 10,000 cars a day to and from the Osgood, Shadow Wood and Shadow Creek developments. That’s near capacity for how the road is designed, Scott said.

In late August, Liberty Middle School will open at 801 36th Ave. E. and Sheyenne 9th Grade Center comes online as Sheyenne High School. Traffic volumes will see an immediate bounce, he said.

Housing construction this summer south of Interstate 94 also appears ready to continue the fast pace of the last couple years. There is “active” development on the west side of Veterans Boulevard in West Fargo, and requests for platting and building permits on the Fargo side, Scott said.

Something else that may perk more housing interest is this spring’s start of construction on the West Fargo School District’s next elementary school at 3700 54th St. S. in Fargo. It is slated to open in fall 2014.

About 35,000 cars are expected to travel the Veterans Boulevard corridor daily when the area is fully built out, Scott said.

About 1,000 feet of the first section of Veterans Boulevard south of 32nd Avenue South will be raised 3 to 4 feet to act as an Army Corps of Engineers-certified levee, he said. After that, the profile of the road is high enough to provide the corps’ required flood protection, he said.

Crews had hoped to start construction by April 15, but late snowstorms and a slow spring snowmelt delayed work through much of the Red River Valley.

Whether the later-than-expected start will push the project past the original Aug. 15 deadline for making the road usable depends on the weather, Scott said.

“We’ll just have to work that much harder through the construction season to keep on the construction schedule,” he said.

Walkways, lights and other work are expected to be wrapped up by early to mid-October.

The primary north-south detour will be West Fargo’s Sheyenne Street to the west. Drivers may also use for Fargo’s 45th Street South to the east.

Drivers will also have a detour to get into West Fargo’s Shadow Creek and Shadow Wood housing developments.

East-west traffic will be maintained on 32nd and 40th avenues, Scott said.

West Fargo School District Business Manager Mark Lemer said if necessary this fall, access to Liberty Middle School can be made by Seventh Street East, and to Sheyenne from 40th Avenue South.

“Veterans Boulevard would be convenient,” Lemer said, but “it shouldn’t have an impact” on operations if it were not open in time for school.

He said the district has been communicating with staff, students and parents about the road work.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583