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081219-mdn-the-strip-reconstruct

Dan Bergerson, left, and Craig Mizera, middle, both with the Bismarck engineering firm HDR Inc., speak with Mandan resident Tom Hansen about the Memorial Highway reconstruction project after a recent public input meeting at Midway Lanes. Hansen was concerned about storm drainage along the business corridor as well as the confusing configurations of the Third Street Southeast and 24th Avenue Southeast intersections.

Improvements eyed for Mandan's Memorial Highway include adding a sidewalk, walking trail and a traffic light, though construction is still a few years away.

Plans to upgrade the roughly 2-mile section of road known as the "Strip" have been in the works since 2010, when the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city of Mandan commissioned a study.

Federal funding constraints resulted in delays to the reconstruction of Memorial Highway, which is technically a state highway. However, the project last year was identified for federal funding allocated through the state Department of Transportation for what's called the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Now, the department and Mandan are advancing plans to reconstruct the "Strip" between Main Street and 46th Avenue SE, the intersection near the Expressway overpass. The two entities recently held an open house and public input meeting at Midway Lanes for business representatives, landowners and local residents.

Plans include adding a sidewalk to the north side of Memorial Highway and a walking trail to the south side, installing a traffic light at Third Street Southeast and Memorial Highway near McDonald's, and constructing raised medians at the intersections.

Rendering

A rendering shows an aerial view of a proposed traffic signal at Third Street Southeast and Memorial Highway in Mandan. The installation of the signal is one of a number of improvements included in the state Department of Transportation and city of Mandan's plan to reconstruct Memorial Highway. Construction is scheduled to being in spring 2022.

HDR Inc. was contracted to design the project. Project manager Craig Mizera said the estimated preliminary cost is between $35 million and $40 million.

The federal government will cover 81% of the cost, the state 9% and Mandan 10%. The first of three construction phases is scheduled to begin in spring 2022.

Mizera said the most inquiries he's received are about the installation of a traffic signal at the McDonald's intersection. A traffic speed study found a signal is warranted there, he said.

"It's a safety benefit," Mizera said.

Luke Richter, branch manager of TrueNorth Steel, which is across the "Strip" from McDonald's, says he sees the benefit in having a traffic signal.

"Every year there's at least one bad accident there that we end up calling 911 about," he said at the open house meeting.

These crashes involve people trying to make left turns or attempting to cross the highway, he said.

While Richter supports the proposed signal, getting foot traffic at his business, he said, "isn't a priority."

"It would actually cause a lot more hazards because of the semis that are coming in and out," Richter said. Five to 10 trucks enter his business property each day, he said.

Still, Richter said, he's interested in learning more about the project.

"I'm still trying to understand what they're all going to do," he said.

He also wants to know what the improvements will cost him.

Consistent with previous roadway improvement projects, the city will fund one-fourth of its 10% share of the project cost through a sales tax, one-fourth through a property tax and the remaining half through special assessments.

The project also includes curb and gutter and an underground storm sewer system, additional costs that will fall to the city.

The Department of Transportation and Mandan are soliciting public input on the project and plan to hold additional public meetings in the future, with the next meeting scheduled for the spring.

For more information on the Memorial Highway reconstruction project, visit www.dot.nd.gov/projects/memorialhwy.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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