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Emily Welker, Published August 16 2013

First Avenue North in downtown Fargo to reopen as two-way street Monday

FARGO – First Avenue North from University Drive to Second Street will officially become a two-way street on Monday when the Broadway and First Avenue intersection is reopened to traffic.

The intersection has been closed for brick repair and installation.

Converting First Avenue from into a two-way marks completion of the final phase of converting NP and First Avenue into two-ways.

But some elements of this summer’s downtown construction project will remain in place for a while, in part to cement the new traffic patterns in commuters’ minds, both as they drive and walk through downtown.

“We’re a little bit concerned about pedestrians familiar with the old layout,” because many people who walk through downtown on their way to work may not yet look both ways for oncoming traffic, said city engineer Kristy Schmidt.

Drivers and walkers will note that white delineators known as “candlesticks” between opposing lanes will likely remain in place until the snow flies in October as a reminder of the new two-ways, Schmidt said.

She said the orange construction barrels will likely be removed within a month.

For all the confusion that’s been expressed by folks downtown about the new layout, there has not been a corresponding increase in accidents, said Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel.

“We don’t have anything planned specifically” for extra traffic enforcement when the First and Broadway intersection opens, Vettel said.

“We’re certainly monitoring the situation. … We’re hopeful people will begin to catch on soon.”

Downtowners can expect slight delays in their commute time as fellow drivers’ learning curves catch up with new routes.

Schmidt said old habits are hard to unlearn. She described one driver who sat in front of a new, red “no left turn” sign on Broadway for at least two light cycles before finally giving up.

“It took somebody in front of me yelling and honking before she finally caught on,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541