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Surcharge phase begins on Ninth Street Interchange

Work on the Ninth Street Interchange, located south of 19th Avenue on 9th Street East, off of Interstate 94, is finally underway.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation signed contracts last Friday with Strata Corporation of West Fargo for the opening surcharge phase of the project that will involve placing extra dirt on the overpass embankment for the purpose of forcing the ground to settle. The overall project will see 800,000 yards of dirt hauled in over the next four months, equating to 46,666 truckloads by approximately 388 trucks daily.

As a result, motorists traveling on Sheyenne Street and utilizing the Horace exit to access Interstate 94 will be experiencing some short delays, caused by the trucks using this particular route.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee asks that motorists use a little patience during the heavier times. "You put 45,000 trucks on the road from haul sites and some of the trucks will have to come up Sheyenne Street. The traffic will get messier, especially at Sheyenne and getting onto the Interstate because more trucks will be thrown into the mix."

Brownlee said that I-94 will be closed to lane traffic for a short distance on each side of 9th Street to allow trucks to access the site from the Interstate. The heaviest impact on traffic is expected to be around the 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. hours when people would either be traveling to work or returning home again. Brownlee said Strata crews will be working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shifts, so there should be no interruptions before or after those times.

After the dirt hauling is complete, Brownlee said the ground will sit for a year so it can settle in preparation for the beginning of the actual overpass construction.

Cost for the surcharge phase of the project is $4,597,241.02. West Fargo's share will be $2,658,000 - approximately 54 percent of the work. Fargo will be responsible for about 17 percent; Federal 25 percent; and the State DOT approximately 3 percent. Brownlee said that the percentages each entity will pay will vary for different segments of the project.

The second phase, the new overpass structure on 9th Street, will see construction begin the summer of 2008, with an expected opening to traffic the fall of 2008. As the project sits today, the ramps providing access on and off of I-94 will be delayed up to five years. Brownlee said there are no surprises here; this was the intent all along. The state will be providing the funding for this last phase out of their highway allocation account, and the monies are not available right now. "The phases are right on track from a time standpoint," Brownlee added. "We were hoping the ramps would go in sooner but we knew the state didn't have the money."

Cost of the overpass structure will be $5.5 million and the ramps an additional $4 million. Estimated cost of the entire project is $18, 342,358, including the cost of purchasing land, the surcharge, overpass and ramps. Brownlee said West Fargo hopes to pay for its share of the project with sales tax revenue bonds.