Grand Forks looking for public input on pedestrian underpass on south end

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) Grand Forks is wanting input from you. They looking into how they should address pedestrian concerns between two schools and busy street.

"Pedestrian got the OK to cross, but there was vehicle turning that didn't see the pedestrian," said Mark Walker a Grand Forks city engineer. "You can't make everything completely 100 percent safe so that an accident will never occur."

But, the city is trying to minimize that risk cost effectively.

This comes after last year when an elementary student was hit by car at this intersection, 40th Ave S. and South Columbia Rd. He was OK, but the incident has lead to questions about crossing a busy road between two Grand Forks' schools.

"About the possibility that the city should pursue a pedestrian underpass," Walker said.

After the elementary school student was hit by car the city added additional warning signs. They also say the safest precautions are often taken after tragedy strikes.

"That one actually occurred, a child was crossing Gateway Drive, I think he was headed for Riverside Pool, he got struck by a truck and was killed," Walker said.

Walker says public outcry after a death on Highway Two lead to a pedestrian underpass being put in.

There's another underpass under South Washington and another on UND's campus under Columbia.

Walker says an underpass is the safest way to get to the other side of the road, but if there's going to be one on the south-end it'll face a hurdle the other three didn't have to get over.

"The biggest challenge is funding," Walker said.

He says other underpasses got state and federal money. With those funds slowing and a city that has more road projects than cash in the coffers, building the south-end underpass would take a special assessment, more taxes for nearby neighborhoods.

"Currently, the city doesn't have a policy for where to locate pedestrian underpasses and how to fund them," Walker said.

Which is why this week the city is holding meetings to hear from you, to decide the best way to get to the other side of the street.

The first of those meetings will start Tuesday night at 7 o'clock at South Middle School.

The second will be held on Thursday at 7 at Discovery Elementary School.