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Published June 27, 2012, 10:12 PM

GF Hits Bump in Road For Columbia Expansion Project

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders say now that they'll have to dish out more money than expected to change Columbia Road into 6-lanes - it'll push back construction on phase two, a few years.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders say now that they'll have to dish out more money than expected to change Columbia Road into 6-lanes - it'll push back construction on phase two, a few years.

But, they say the first phase won't be affected.

The first phase which is scheduled to start next year, won't be impacted.

It's the second phase which has been pushed back two years to 2016.

"Federal funding is the biggest piece, that's what they keep maneuvering with is the federal funds," said Curt Kreun, Chairman of the Service and Safety Committee.

The city has been shorted $377,000 for phase 1 of the project. That's tacked on to a city bill that's already more than $900,000. City leaders say it'll have to be made up somehow by tapping into funding from other projects. Last year the state gave Grand Forks $2 million, which the city will use.

"They passed shortages onto the state level and that's what we're dealing with," said Kreun.

City engineer, Michael Yavarow says much of the funding depends on a federal highway bill which expires Saturday. He says it needs to be renewed in order to secure revenue for this project.

"This money comes to the state and then the state divvies it up proportionally to a formula they have and the state doesn't know what's going to happen after Saturday so they have a problem," said Michael Yavarow, the Principal Civil Engineer for the city.

A problem on what leaders say is the most dangerous road in the city. Construction on phase 1, will eliminate the stop signs and add an extra lane on both sides to cut down on merging. And the delay on phase 2 will keep traffic around a little longer.

"Just like anything, you're going to have traffic on a bad road, that much longer," said Yavarow.

More than 5,000 people use Columbia Road for access to Altru and other businesses.

"That is going to grow and so we want to get that project completed as quick as possible," said Kreun.

And Kreun says no matter what, it will happen.

"We'll get it done."

In efforts to shorten construction process and save money, they'll widen southbound and northbound lanes at the same time.

The first part of construction will begin at Demers Avenue and stretch to 11th Avenue South. The second phase will begin in 2016 and stretch from 11th Avenue South to 14th Avenue South.

Phase one won't even start until next year, and the construction that's currently taking place is not related to this project.

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