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Acceptance of a grant to reduce traffic lanes in downtown Jamestown, along with replacing traffic signals and adding other amenities, is a step closer to approval after a unanimous vote of the Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee.

Jon Beyer, owner of Jonny B's Brickhouse Pizza, told the committee Tuesday the project is an investment in the future of the community. Beyer presented the committee with four pages of signatures he gathered from patrons in favor of accepting the Urban Grant Program.

The UGP $3.1 million grant includes funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The project, planned for construction in 2020, would reduce the number of lanes on First Avenue to one lane in each direction with a center turning lane. The project also includes $1.2 million for new traffic signals and improvements to sidewalks that include bumpouts that extend the sidewalks the width of the parking lane at the crosswalks.

Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said he still had concerns.

"I raised questions mainly to raise questions," he said. "Not necessarily in opposition."

Heinrich said snow removal was still a big concern to him.

"It can be handled by the city staff," he said, "but can it be handled by people who work and live there."

Heinrich also said the agreement would allow the state to determine the number of traffic lights it replaces on First Avenue.

"If we go forward," he said, "we need a lot of good input."

Lynn Lambrecht, representing the Jamestown Downtown Association, said the goal of the project was to change First Avenue from something people traveled through to get across town to a destination for people to spend time.

Emily Bivens, executive director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, said a poll of members had found 80 percent of the businesses that responded favored the planned changes.

Acceptance of the grant now moves to the Nov. 5 Jamestown City Council meeting. If approved at that time, the NDDOT would prepare a request for proposals for a design. The project could be bid in 2019 with construction starting in 2019.

The city of Jamestown would be obligated to 10 percent of the project cost or about $310,000 which would be paid from the Special Assessment Deficiency Fund.

In other business, the Finance and Legal Committee reviewed increases to city utility and charges for fees and services as were included in the 2019 budget plan. Final action on the increases will come at the Nov. 5 City Council meeting.

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