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Improvements to 12th Avenue Southeast include realignment project

Ben Aaseth, project engineer for Interstate Engineering, presented the realignment projects Monday, March 21, at a public input meeting for the proposed improvements of 12th Avenue Southeast.

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One safety issue at the T intersection of 12th Avenue and 3rd Street Southeast is westbound motorists making U-turns near the crossing to get onto 12th Avenue.
Kathy Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN – Proposed improvements for 12th Avenue Southeast from 3rd Street to 6th Street Southeast include choosing between two realignment projects that both include pavement reconstruction and replatting of land.

The city of Jamestown, in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, is proposing roadway improvements to 12th Avenue Southeast.

Ben Aaseth, project engineer for Interstate Engineering, presented the proposed realignment projects on Monday, March 21, at a public input meeting for improving 12th Avenue Southeast.

The purpose of improving 12th Avenue Southeast is to address roadway deficiencies such as poor drainage on the road, potholes and washboarding, and improve safety for motorists, Aaseth said. The project includes pavement reconstruction, curb and gutter, storm sewer, some replatting of land in the area and improvements to lighting along the corridor.

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The project map shows potential realignment of 12th Avenue Southeast. The green road shows how a new road would be created at the intersection of 12th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast that would curve to the northwest to 4th Street Southeast and then go north to 3rd Street Southeast. The orange road shows how a new road would be created at the intersection of 12th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast that would curve northwest toward the intersection of 11th Avenue and 4th Street Southeast.
Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun

The first alternative includes realigning 12th Avenue Southeast to 11 1/2 Avenue Southeast and connecting to 3rd Street Southeast. A new road would be created at the intersection of 12th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast that would curve to the northwest to 4th Street Southeast and then go north to 3rd Street. Fourth Street Southeast would also extend east and connect to 11 1/2 Avenue.

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Aaseth said the first alternative could create problems with a left-hand-turning lane for westbound motorists at 11 1/2 Avenue Southeast.

“If you really shorten that up, you lose a lot of merging and shifting that is required,” he said.

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This photo taken from 3rd Street Southeast shows where 11 1/2 Avenue Southeast would potentially be to connect to 12th Avenue Southeast at the interesection of 12th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast.
Kathy Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

The second alternative is to realign 12th Avenue Southeast to the intersection of 11th Avenue and 4th Street Southeast. A new road would be created at the intersection of 12th Avenue and 5th Street Southeast that would curve northwest toward the intersection of 11th Avenue and 4th Street Southeast.

Both alternatives include paving 12th Avenue Southeast from 5th to 6th Street Southeast. Both options also include a cul-de-sac road for access to an electrical business along 12th Avenue Southeast and the city water department’s water tank and station.

The first alternative includes the purchase of a right of way from BNSF Railway. The second alternative includes purchasing the right of way from BNSF and a portion of another property.

In preliminary discussions with BNSF, the railway company’s preference is the second alternative, Aaseth said. BNSF owns the land between 11th Avenue and 12th Avenue Southeast.

Aaseth said negotiations between the city and BNSF for the purchase of a right of way cannot happen until Interstate Engineering completes environmental documentation.

Jason Bivens, environmental specialist with Interstate Engineering, said a documented categorical exclusion that summarizes the environmental findings such as wetlands and cultural resources will be submitted to the NDDOT. Then the NDDOT will choose its preferred alternate route while the city of Jamestown gets input on that as well.

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Roadway deficiencies such as poor drainage, potholes and washboarding can be seen on 12th Avenue Southeast.
Kathy Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Two other alternatives were proposed with one including paving 12th Avenue Southeast and the other being no project.

“There would be issues here. We would have to get exceptions from the railroad, DOT, Federal Highway (Administration),” Aaseth said, referring to paving 12th Avenue Southeast. “It doesn’t really solve a lot of the problems we are looking for in this project.” He said the way northbound motorists on 12th Avenue Southeast approach the railroad tracks where the quiet zone is located not the safest situation.

Aaseth said at the T intersection of 12th Avenue and 3rd Street Southeast there have been issues with westbound motorists making u-turns near the crossing to get onto 12th Avenue and northbound vehicles with trailers on 12th Avenue making right-hand turns at 3rd Street and potentially damaging the railroad crossing arms.

“There’s also people that cut in between the median,” he said. “Coming down the hill, they will cut right in between the median right over the top of the railroad tracks.”

Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said improving the existing 12th Avenue Southeast is not a realistic option. He said that he prefers the alternative to 11 1/2 Avenue Southeast but the NDDOT and BNSF might be the driving force to what is selected.

The first alternate is estimated at more than $1.1 million, while the second and third alternates are estimated at $1 million each.

Eighty percent of the cost would be paid by federal and state funds while the local share would be 20%.

Heinrich said “Prairie Dog” funds could be used to pay for the project rather than using special assessments. He said the problem with using special assessments is BNSF getting specially assessed and not agreeing to it, which ultimately would mean the project will not happen.

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“Nothing has been chiseled in granite,” he said, referring to how the city of Jamestown will fund the project.

Public comments can be submitted by April 5 to ben.aaseth@interstateeng.com or to Project Engineer, C/O Interstate Engineering, PO Box 2035, Jamestown, ND 58401.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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