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City’s two big road projects finally wrap up for the construction season

Posted 11/17/15 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

Local businesses and residents that surround the 4th Avenue roadway project in Watford City will finally be getting back to some normalcy once the project wraps up for this construction season.
“It’s been a challenging summer for those of us who live and work on the 4th Avenue - Highway 23 Business Route,” said Brent Sanford, S & S Motors owner. “Just like those impacted along Highway 23 east and Highway 85 west while those projects were being completed. The Highway 85 Business South will be next summer’s challenge. But these highways had to be improved. And they will be so much safer and better and able to handle our new traffic volumes when completed.”
What was supposed to be completed by Nov. 1, ended up being delayed by over two weeks. According to Elaine Derry, Public Relations coordinator with Knife River, delays were due in part to changes to the project and utility issues.
“Given the issues Knife River has encountered including the locating and relocation of utilities, the changes to the project, and the coordinating and rescheduling of work due to ‘unrelated contractors’ working in the project areas, the 4th Avenue project has proven to be challenging,” said Derry. “We have tried to stay on schedule as best we can.”
According to a source who didn’t want to be identified, since Nov. 1, Knife River is being charged a fine of $5,000 a day until completion.
“The redirected traffic was not executed as they promised us it would be in the public meetings,” said Robin Greenhagen, owner of Blue Lube & Repair. “They did not provide the signage,  did not provide an adequate temporary road,  and did not communicate a solution to us despite repeated attempts by us to get resolution.”
According to Greenhagen, he is looking at legal action against the engineers, contractor, and the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
“We are likely going to seek a legal judgement against them (KLJ/Knife River/DOT),” states Greenhagen. “They were to always have some form of traffic going past our business, either on the main road or the new frontage road. Instead, they cut all traffic 60 days ago. I know it has really hurt both S & S Motors and my business, as well as the golf course.”
Greenhagen said his business, as well as the other businesses directly impacted by the roadway project need to start building their businesses back up. He said they lost thousands of dollars every day.
“We lost thousands of dollars per day,” stated Greenhagen. “But the bank wanted a mortgage payment and employees all wanted paychecks.”
By contract, the date of completion was supposed to be Nov. 1, 2015.
Work will be suspended through the winter and the estimated date of completion is July 16, 2016. By Nov. 1, everything was supposed to be completed except for the street lighting, the traffic signal system, permanent pavement markings, and the permanent seeding and erosion control.
Another big roadway project that has been completed is the city’s 4th Avenue Improvement Project, which runs from 5th Street West to County Road 35/14th Street. The $3.16 million project is now paved with all signage up.
“We have it paved at this point,” said Jim Olson, Construction Services manager with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. (AE2S). “And all signage is up. It will definitely be open for traffic by Wednesday, Nov. 18.”
One thing that won’t be completed, according to Olson, is the shared-use path. Only a quarter of the path is currently done, with completion slated for 2016. Other than that, it will be a beautiful road to drive on says Olson.
The 4th Avenue Improvement Project consists of two phases, the general construction phase and the electrical construction phase. The general construction phase included new storm sewers, water, fire hydrants, curb and gutter, and new asphalt paving. The electrical construction phase will be completed in 2016, which will include the placement of 22 light poles. The new walking paths and the shared-use path will also be completed in 2016.
“Next year, we will finish completion on the shared-use path,” said Olson. “We had to stop mid-way because of weather. But it will get new light poles up and down the street. It really will be a nice road for residents to use.”