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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 18 2013

Veterans Boulevard back in business by Friday

WEST FARGO – After a summer of detours for Veterans Boulevard construction, Michelle Warren is ready for a break.

In another week, she’ll get it.

Before work began in May to turn the two-lane blacktop road into a four-lane urban arterial street, Warren’s family would use it to go from their home on 55th Street South in Fargo to a nearby workout center and her parents’ place in West Fargo’s Charleswood neighborhood.

Opening the road “would save a lot of time in our day, quite frankly,” Warren said.

Veterans Boulevard between 32nd and 40th avenues south will be opened to one lane of traffic in each direction Friday, said Dustin Scott, assistant city engineer for the city of West Fargo, which has coordinated the project.

The bulk of the work on the road that acts as a border between Fargo and West Fargo in that area was supposed to be finished this past Thursday.

Some paving work in the medians, installation of boulevard lights and construction of bike paths will take until September, Scott said.

Final completion is expected Oct. 15.

School concerns

But with school starting Aug. 27, not everyone is sure one lane each way is enough.

Liberty Middle School opens at 801 36th Ave. E. and Sheyenne 9th Grade Center comes online as Sheyenne High School at the corner of Veterans and 40th Avenue South.

Safety around the schools is a worry for Julie Boehning, who lives on Fargo’s 58th Street South, but is also in the bounds of the West Fargo School District.

“Hopefully, it will all work out,” she said. “It’s stressful enough when school starts.”

Brad Redmond, transportation director for the West Fargo School District, said his bus drivers can make Veterans Boulevard access work with one lane each way.

If it proves too tough, he said there is also access to Liberty Middle School through Shadow Wood on Fourth Street East, which connects with 36th Avenue South.

“I think we’ll be fine pretty much everywhere. I’m not anticipating any issues,” he said.

Still, Redmond urges drivers to watch for children and go slow – 15 mph in school zones – and stop for buses when they have their stop arms out.

Scott said some drivers may want to continue to use their favorite detour roads for a few weeks, “to alleviate congestion.”

Weather delay

The delay in opening of the road is due to the late start for the construction season because of late snowfalls and a wet spring that followed, Scott said.

Veterans Boulevard carried about 10,000 cars a day to and from the Osgood, Shadow Wood and other developments before construction started. That was near its capacity, Scott said.

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

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