While many in our community may see much of this summer’s extremely busy road construction season as aggravating, annoying, or inconvenient, I see the flurry of work in a different light. I see it as progress. I see it as growth. And I see it as being one year closer to protecting our community and others against another flood event.
Much of the major work on Broadway this summer is vital to the successful completion of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan. The massive underground storm water pipe that was installed this year is crucial to the overall infrastructure of the project, which is the largest in our community’s history. The months of head-to-head traffic certainly changed the driving habits of many residents, but the work was absolutely necessary.
Even without the flood protection work on Broadway, this was going to be a busy year on Broadway. The overlay project on north Broadway and the replacement of various concrete panels and some curb and gutter meant drivers would see a lot of orange cones this year. But Minot’s backlog of deferred maintenance on road repairs has grown tremendously through the past decade, and the City Council has actively worked to help the City’s engineering and traffic departments reduce that backlog in recent budgets. I would expect that effort to continue in future budgets.
It’s been an extremely busy year on 16th Street SW, too, and we recognize that the street’s full closure for the past few weeks has put additional stress on commuters, especially during peak times. Again, the work taking place on 16th Street SW is key to ensuring that our community is protected should another flood event happen in future years. Reopening 16th Street SW with two lanes of head-to-head traffic late last week will help alleviate the traffic backups on other routes, and we look forward to when the road is fully open to traffic.
As we discussed at the City Council meeting last week, there is another major road closure happening; Third Street NE is closed at the intersection of Fifth Avenue NE, just north of the Third Street bridge. We fully recognize the inconvenience caused by this closure, but major underground work related to the flood control project is happening at that location. In order for the project to continue its progress, this work that ties into the overall project needs to be completed this construction season.
Every construction season reminds me of the attitude North Dakotans generally have when it comes to winter. Yes, there is much to complain about during winter, but as the weather warms, snow melts, and spring is clearly visible on the calendar, ask North Dakotans what they thought of the latest winter. In my experience, you’ll hear a lot of things like “It wasn’t so bad” or “Well, it could have been worse.” By necessity, we have short memories.
And so it is with construction. Yes, this summer has been hectic in Minot. Traffic habits were altered on many of the busiest routes in town, creating frustrating commutes. But let’s not forget that 2018 was an extremely busy construction year, too. And so was 2017. And 2016. And 2015. And, well, you get the point. This year, the construction work has been more visible since it’s taken place on major traffic routes, including Broadway, 16th Street SW and Third Street NE. That won’t always be the case.
Our focus continues to be on completing the basin-wide flood protection system in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and sometimes that means construction affecting several major traffic routes must be done at the same time. Scheduling contractors and subcontractors is a difficult task, and it isn’t always feasible or efficient to wait until one project is complete before starting another project, even if that means some of the traffic changes overlap. Yes, it’s temporarily inconvenient for everyone, and we appreciate our community’s patience as this project progresses. The end result – protecting our city and our neighbors – will certainly be worth it.
Sincerely, City Hall
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