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Fargo-Interstate 94 project construction starts

FARGO -- With detours still in place from the spring flood fight, Fargo drivers now must negotiate a sea of orange cones.

Yes, winter is gone, which means North Dakota's other season -- road construction -- is under way.

The state Department of Transportation began work Wednesday on a $7.7 million interchange project at Interstate 94 and 45th Street, which will stall traffic at one of the city's busiest intersections.

It's one of seven state road projects in the Fargo district this year, and work hasn't started this early since 2001, said Kevin Gorder, assistant district engineer for NDDOT's Fargo district.

"It's another pretty good-sized season," he said.

Traffic on the 45th Street bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction for the majority of the summer as the bridge is widened by one lane in each direction and a northeast loop ramp is added for northbound traffic merging onto westbound I-94, Gorder said.

Crews also will add auxiliary lanes on both the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-94 between 45th Street and I-29. Southbound I-29 drivers will no longer have to merge into the through lanes of I-94 when they're trying to get to the 45th Street off-ramp.

"Really, all it is is we're going to connect ramp to ramp," Gorder said, adding, "That'll be a big improvement. Right now that's a congested area especially around 5 p.m."

The project will help the city handle the higher traffic flows from rapid growth in the 45th Street corridor in the past decade -- and in the future, Gorder said. About 31,000 vehicles cross the 45th Street bridge every day, a number that's projected to hit 51,000 vehicles daily by 2030.

The city of Fargo's largest road project this year also involves 45th Street, said Jeremy Gorden, senior transportation engineer for the city.

The four-lane stretch of 45th Street from 26th to 32nd avenues will be expanded by one lane in each direction, starting as early as the end of next week, but the road will remain open, Gorden said.

Those who use 45th Street from 32nd to 52nd avenues won't be so lucky: The street will be ripped up and rebuilt, causing significant detours. Completion is scheduled for late August for the section from 32nd to 40th avenues and mid-October for the stretch from 40th to 52nd avenues.

A major gateway to downtown Fargo also will close when the city and state partner up to revamp the 10th Street underpass at Main Avenue with new pavement, lights, sidewalks and other features.

The underpass will close after the May 22 Fargo Marathon and won't reopen again until September, officials said.

A detour around the two-block project will use University Drive.

Gorder urged drivers to be patient, plan ahead and slow down.

Mike Nowatzki is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by

Forum Communications Co.