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Ribbon cutting ceremony grand finale for interchange

Officials cut the ribbon during the special ceremony a week ago marking the opening of the new 9th Street Interchange. David Samson/The Forum1 / 2
Jim Hapala, representing the area veterans, offered thanks for the naming of Veterans Boulevard, urging everyone to keep in mind other veterans presently in harms way 'wishing them a safe return home.' David Samson/The Forum2 / 2

West Fargo VFW representatives were part of the contingency taking part in the official opening of the 9th Street and Interstate-94 Interchange a week ago, including former post commander Jim Hapala and West Fargo City Commissioner Mark Simmons.

Their connection?

The new Veterans Boulevard roadway named in honor of military men and women that is a continuation of 9th Street East on the south edge of the overpass running all the way to 52nd Ave. where Fargo begins.

The name was originally proposed by West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern on behalf of West Fargo veterans and all others who served, and confirmed by a vote of the West Fargo City Commission as well as Fargo city leaders.

Motorists started using the interchange ramps a week ago. The bridge over I-94 has been open since August 21.

The ribbon cutting was to have been held on the northeast ramp of the overpass but heavy rain forced the ceremony inside at the Urban Plains Center.

Other officials participating in the long-awaited event were: Mattern, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Francis Ziegler, representatives for the state's congressional delegation, Kent Campbell of the West Fargo Chamber of Commerce who served as moderator, Jim Parsons of the Fargo-Moorhead completed "without the collaboration and cooperation" of all the entities involved including local, state, and federal officials. "Congratulations on a job well done. I want to thank all the partners who held this together," here also mentioning the three prime contractors, Strata Corporation, Riley Brothers and Industrial Builders, Inc. as well as the engineers involved.

Walaker said "with poor weather it's nice to be opening a project instead of closing it. It's a beautiful interchange that gives us another north, south route. It is good for our communities and good for each and everyone one of us. I can only say accolades to everyone involved."

Paul Diederich of Industrial Builders said the overpass bridge has the distinction of having the widest bridge deck in North Dakota at 116.5 feet and the widest one his company has ever poured, with 45 people working on it. "We're proud for it to become a concrete reality and of our role in being part of the Interstate system."

Work on aesthetic phases of the project will continue until the end of the month with everyone set to be complete by Halloween. Remaining activity will focus on landscaping, signal light work, and other finishing touches.Chamber of Commerce, Paul Diederich of Industrial Builders, Inc., and NDDOT Fargo District Assistant Engineer Kevin Gorder.

The NDDOT worked together with the cities of Fargo and West Fargo to attain funding and get the project completed in 2009.

The $28 million project adds a new north-south route to the metro transportation mix, providing a new corridor for both residential and commercial expansion.

Ziegler told those gathered that the job couldn't have been