Stuck for the summer: Construction projects will continue to slow traffic in Grand Forks through August

Looking south down Washington Street from the Washington Street and DeMers Avenue intersection at 6:45 p.m. on June 17, 2013. Photo credit: John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald.

Story by Robb Jeffries

It’s not the 405 in Los Angeles, but construction season has turned some roads in Grand Forks into heavily congested motorways.

The effects of the closure of part of Columbia Road and its DeMers Avenue overpass and the construction project on 32nd Avenue South are difficult to measure. City Traffic Engineer Jane Williams said hard statistics about the redirection of traffic are not yet available, but the completing work during the summer should minimize problems.

“We timed these projects to coincide with school being out,” she said. “We make a conscious effort to look at the schedules of the public schools and of UND to make sure we have road work going on with as few people in town as possible.

“We’re rather limited to when we can do construction, so primarily the construction that goes on is during this period of time. It’s just the way it has to be.”

The overpass closed May 5 and is scheduled to reopen in mid-August. The city’s public information office has created a Facebook page to provide pictures and updates of the construction.

The partial closure of Columbia Road had Kristine Middleton worried about her business. Middleton, who owns The Rose Flower Shop at 1375 S. Columbia with her husband, Jay, said she had plans to cut back her staff that she ended up not needing.

“I was worried at first, but those worries went unfounded,” she said. “The majority of our business is by phone, so we haven’t had as much of an impact. With Altru, Scheels and Hugo’s here, we’ve had plenty of walk-ins.”

To read more about what residents think of the construction, click here.

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