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A crew from Dakota Fence installed the covering to the pedestrian-bicycle path last week over the 9th Street overpass in West Fargo.

9th Street Interchange officially open

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West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern is describing the official opening of the 9th Street Interchange today, Oct. 1, "as a historic moment for West Fargo," providing another option for north-south traffic to cross the Interstate and ultimately playing a role in supporting commercial and residential growth in that area.

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The realization of the interchange will be celebrated with a special grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., accented by remarks from a slate of dignitaries including Mattern, North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Francis Ziegler, and Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. Representatives of the contracting firms have also been invited to attend, as have members of the state's federal delegation.

Mattern is confident the new interchange access will result only in additional positives for the community, and he, along with everyone else involved with the project, couldn't be more pleased.

"The project has been discussed for years, but now we are finally seeing it come to fruition," Mattern said. "Many people have told me they already use the overpass bridge. Now with the ramps opening, I think we will quickly see even more of an increase in traffic. I hope that we also see, in a rather quick time, commercial and residential development along the south corridor.

"This is an historic moment for West Fargo in that, for now, this is the last interchange available in the metro area. I think people in the future will look back at the new interchange and talk about how it helped West Fargo remain a 'city on the grow.'"

The 9th Street Interchange has been in the planning stages since 2001, with the dirt surcharge project getting under way in 2007, followed by a year of stabilization efforts made necessary after soil conditions became unstable requiring additional shoring up.

Early this year, actual physical construction began on the overpass and ramps, with the culmination of those efforts finally being realized now. The ramps weren't initially supposed to be built until 2012, but West Fargo and Fargo agreed to bond, so the project could be completed all at the same time.

The ceremony will be conducted at the northeast ramp area of the interchange. North Dakota Department of Transportation Assistant District Engineer Kevin Gorder said the public is welcome and encouraged to attend the event, asking that they please try to find a safe place to park, making sure to leave a lane open for traffic.

Involved with the project since its inception, Gorder said the opening of the interchange will now provide West Fargo additional growth opportunities on the south side. "In order to accomplish this, West Fargo had to leap the Interstate and this was the infrastructure needed to do that," he said.

The DOT has been responsible for work from 19th Avenue South to 23rd Avenue South with the city of West Fargo and Fargo responsible for the remaining areas.

Gorder said the unique aspect of the 9th Street Interchange and the one at 52nd Ave. are they are two of the first interchanges with flatter profiles, meaning they have a stopping site distance that is much greater at 1200 feet compared to the 450 feet at others, providing better site ability so motorists can make safer traffic decisions.

A little bit of work will still remain on the 9th Street Interchange following the official ceremony today, with the goal to have everything completed by Oct. 31, Gorder said. Remaining efforts will focus on landscaping, traffic signals at the ramp terminals, where four-way stops will be in place until the signal lights are operational, and the street lighting.

Overall cost for the project is estimated at $18 million to $20 million. Funding for the ramp component of the project is 90 percent federal and 10 percent state, while funding for the cross roads is 75 percent city of West Fargo and 25 percent city of Fargo. The stabilization project conducted last year is being funded 90 percent federal, and 10 percent local.

Again, the public is welcome to attend the 11 a.m. ceremony today. In the event of rain, it will be held in the Urban Plains Center, located right off 32nd Ave.

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