Changes are in the works for the lane configurations for the Main Avenue reconstruction project, with the adjustments expected to take place sometime this week, perhaps as soon as today (Thursday).
The plan is to switch traffic off of the frontage north onto the new pavement section between Sheyenne Street and Third Street East with one lane of traffic each going eastbound and westbound, where the next phase of work is set to begin.
North Dakota Department of Transportation Senior Project Engineer Joe Peyerl said crews will tear into the frontage road area starting at the west end of the project by Sheyenne Street and do the work one block at a time, leapfrogging to the east in order to minimize the impact the work will have on businesses.
The work will involve digging up the pavement and installing water services, followed by installation of the base and base coarse in anticipation of paving.
"We will be working with businesses in each area so it impacts them as little as possible, Peyerl said. The goal is to coordinate traffic so some businesses will be approachable from the front, if at all possible, while others will have to rely on joint and back accesses.
Sidewalks in front of businesses will also be left in place as long as possible.
"The frontage road phase will be the most difficult to do, so we really do have an appreciation for that and we want to get it done as quickly as we can," Peyerl added. "We'll use safety fence and go door to door to try to keep this area as customer friendly as we can while the work is going on."
He noted that a temporary water service plan will also have to be put in place that ensures nobody is without water. Crews are presently working on implementing this plan.
There has also been much talk the last couple of weeks about potential work changes involving installing a bridge in lieu of the box culvert originally set to be part of the project at Sixth Street West.
Peyerl said that any plans for this are now presently on hold and undecided until at least next spring. Constructing a bridge instead of the box culvert would require an evaluation of the permit process and securing an updated permit, which would result in at least another two week delay. "We are not going to pursue a bridge or a box culvert this year. It is too late, and the time frame won't allow for the change now. We need to take a step back and look at the money issues. This is something we will be working with the city of West Fargo and the Federal Highway Administration on." The old bridge that is in place will be used until a final decision is made on how to proceed.
Peyerl said he and other staff met with West Fargo businesses last week to secure their suggestions. "Everybody has been very cooperative and we really have been trying to get the businesses to give us input for what they'll need."
Center Street is also now open and drivable, so hopefully that will help with traffic a little bit.
Peyerl said things on the whole are moving along and the project should continue to go well if the weather cooperates. "Rain is what we don't need now."
This first phase of Main Avenue reconstruction, which began in May, involves work between 6th Street West, near the Sheyenne River crossing, all the way to 5th Street East, by DMI Industries, with the end result a wider Main Avenue as well as easier access to area businesses by eliminating the frontage roads and providing parking areas instead.
The completion date for this phase of the project has been earmarked for mid to late October, again weather permitting.
The two additional phases of the entire Main Avenue reconstruction are the segments from 6th Street to 45th Street; and the West Fargo interchange on West Main Avenue to 5th Street. Respective construction dates are 2012 and 2015, both contingent upon federal funding. Dakota Underground of Fargo is the general contractor for the project.
More information including progress updates, maps and road closure information can be found at the NDDOT's Web site at www.nddotfargo.com.