Posted 9/08/15 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
By Nov. 1, Watford City motorists can look forward to being able to drive on N.D. County Road 23 (4th Avenue) both east and west, without the bumpy dirt roads, big orange detour signs, and the one-way congested traffic.
According to Elaine Derry, Public Relations coordinator with Knife River, a handful of items have already been completed thus far on the roadway project.
“All of the existing pavement has been removed west of the Cherry Creek Bridge and eastbound on 4th Avenue to the intersection of N.D. 23 and N.D. 1806,” said Derry. “We removed the Cherry Creek Bridge, and the new bridge piers and the new bridge box beams have been set. The bridge at Cherry Creek is a little more than half-way done. And the majority of the storm drain systems on the west side of the Cherry Creek Bridge have been completed.”
According to Derry, the Knife River crew has also completed the asphalt overlay pavement on County Road 36 from 4th Avenue going north to 17th Avenue NE. Further east on N.D. 23, the pedestrian box culvert for the shared use path is 65 percent complete. The multi-use path will be completed next year.
“The reason for this project was to create a three-lane highway for all of the new development so they have turn lanes and a walking/bike path,” stated Derry. “The project will also include underground utilities, water, and sewer. However, most of what we’re doing is storm water drains. We’ve also made the road safer and have eased congestion on the highway.”
Currently being worked on is the storm water drain system and other utilities, including water and sewer. The Knife River crew is also preparing 4th Avenue for paving, and they’re working on the bridge the pedestrian underpass.
“We only have two months left,” says Derry. “Over the next two months, we’ll be working on curb and gutter and paving west of Cherry Creek on 4th Avenue. We’ll be completing the bridge, the pedestrian underpass, the storm drain system, installing the signals at the intersection of 12th Street NE and 4th Avenue, and installing underground electrical for the street lights. Also, the new airport entrance off 4th Avenue will be completed within the next week.”
According to Derry, the entire project is about 25 percent complete, with the large majority to be completed in the next two months. Some aspects of the project are ahead of schedule, some are on time, and others are running behind.
“As far as being on schedule,” says Derry, “some things are ahead, some are on, and some are behind schedule. The bridge and the pedestrian underpass are ahead of schedule. The grading is on schedule, and the storm drain system and the concrete paving are a little behind schedule, due to ‘changes’ to the project and existing utility conflicts.”
Derry says that the “changes” equate to the difficulty in coordinating the location and relocation of utilities. She says that sometimes they are there and sometimes they’re not where they’re supposed to be.
By contract, the estimated date of completion is Nov. 1, 2015. Work will be suspended through the winter beginning Nov. 1, 2015. Estimated date of completion is July 16, 2016. By Nov. 1, everything should be completed, but the street lighting, the traffic signal system, permanent pavement markings, and the permanent seeding and erosion control. However, according to Derry, there may be delays due to changes to the project or utility issues.
“The public should be cautious of current traffic conditions from 12th Avenue,” says Derry. “We only have eastbound traffic on 4th Avenue. People need to pay attention to heavy equipment and traffic control signs. Eastbound traffic has been diverted from 12th Avenue NW on N.D. 23 east to N.D. 1806, turning left or north to 17th and west to 12th Avenue NW. Drivers can also head east on N.D. 23 and turn right or south onto 1806, which is the 85 Bypass. We are grading N.D. 23 to make travel as smooth as possible, as often as we can. And we’re providing water trucks to keep the dust under control.”
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 N.D. 23 (4th Avenue) project, according to Derry, has proven to be challenging, yet they continue to make progress.
“Our crews are working hard to meet expected completion dates,” says Derry. “Our underground pipe crews are currently working two shifts daily, and one at night to stay on schedule. We began this project on June 11, 2015, and we are trying to stay on schedule as best as we can.”
Knife River has assisted several neighborhood homeowners with additional detour signs to eliminate confused drivers. They have also put in an access road for McKenzie Electric.
“We put temporary fencing between the park and the construction area to keep people from wandering into the work areas,” added Derry. “And we have provided additional flaggers to help coordinate better communication with confused drivers.”
Derry says that Knife River conducts public meetings each and every Thursday morning at 10 a.m., at City Hall, for anyone wanting to share concerns and/or ask questions.