Grand Forks, East Grand Forks consider building new bridge

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live)-- Growth in the south end of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks has both cities talking about building a new inner-city bridge.

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The community met Wednesday night at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Grand Forks to talk about putting the new bridge up, but not everyone was on board.

Bill Puffe, a Grand Forks resident, said he didn't think the city had the right location in mind.

"I think it's stupid, putting the bridge at 32nd Ave.," Puffe said. "In five years, they'll just be back again looking to put in another bridge somewhere else."

The goal of the project is to improve local traffic and connectivity.

So far, it's been narrowed down to five locations, with 32nd Ave. S. topping the list.

But, a lot of people in the community said they are frustrated with this location and are taking a stand.

Another Grand Forks resident said he doesn't want the construction, nor the traffic, near his house.

"You know, you think about a bridge, you think about all the traffic that is going to be coming back and forth," Mike McLean said. "And with having small children in the future, that's a reason for concern for me personally."

Some of the bridge locations will run through golf courses, neighborhoods and even schools.

But, a city employee said, the location of the bridge can't please everyone.

"You're impacting neighborhoods again," John Bernstrom said. "It's neighborhoods as you head all the way south. That is what makes this decision really hard. And that 's why I think it is fair there has not been a firm decision of where it should go."

Bernstrom says over the next 25 years, traffic in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks will increase about 70 percent.

He added, without an additional south-end bridge, the city will be overcrowded.

"Traffic volumes are continuing to grow and continue to impact the neighborhoods that currently have the bridges in them, " Bernstrom said. "So, it's not a matter of building a bridge and then that eliminates a problem in one location. It's slowing the traffic volume in one location and moving it to another."

Bernstrom said that this south-end bridge is high up on the priority list.
He said it's a time-consuming process, but that it's worth having these tough conversations.

Officials said they are going to continue their study to find a location for the bridge. And if they don't start something soon, they say they could face major problems down the road.