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Published April 09, 2013, 06:31 PM

Grand Forks County residents petition for south end bridge

Some Grand Forks county residents have started a petition drive with hopes to see construction on a new south end bridge to bypass the city. They're trying to catch the attention of state and local planners.

Some Grand Forks county residents have started a petition drive with hopes to see construction on a new south end bridge to bypass the city. They're trying to catch the attention of state and local planners.

The need for the project was identified decades ago and now, a group of people is taking extra steps to ensure those plans become a reality. A group called the South Forks Bybass Coalition is behind the drive. It's a project they've been working on for two decades.

Roland Young: ""We have jumped through so many hoops for so many years for a very viable project that has been justified for over ten years now."

Bob Drees: "The problem here is that it is alway five to seven years out, and it has been five to seven years out for 20 years."

According to the Metropolitan Planning Organization's priority list, a Merrifield bridge would be built within ten years.

However, that list will be updated in the next two weeks and the priorities could change. Bridge supporters hope to get enough names to persuade that plan to stay intact.

Young: "We believe now this should be given top priority to get it going."

Young says with Grand Forks' two main downtown bridges slated to be rehabilitated or replaced in the next 3 to 5 years, a bridge to the south makes even more sense. He says since a border bridge is a 50/50 cost between states polk county would also have to be on board.

Young: "If minnesota has already programed the Kennedy and Sorlie bridge in their budgets, I think they should at least give this thing a top priorty."

The MPO will take comments on the bridge project from city, county and state officials in addition to the public in the coming weeks. Earl Hagen from the MPO says the latest cost estimate is 25 million dollars for the entire project.

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