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Published July 19, 2011, 10:39 PM

Repairs Needed For Washington Street Underpass

Traffic engineers say Washington Street is one of the busiest roads in the state, and some changes need to be made.

A busy Grand Forks road is in line for some much-needed improvements.

Traffic engineers say Washington Street is one of the busiest roads in the state, and some changes need to be made.

The underpass is actually two structures built about 30 years apart but working together as one and Charley and Molly the newer half is basically still sound.

The older half is a different story.

The west side of the Washington Street underpass was built nearly 80 years ago, 30 years before the east side. Because it was built so much sooner and with different materials, it's deteriorating more quickly.

"There was evidence of cracking in the concrete, so that's what we were looking at, to determine the cause of that to see if it was just cosmetic or if it really was evidence of an underlying structural problem with the bridge," structural engineer Wade Frank said.

The city has been given three options: make immediate repairs, replace the west end, or replace the entire bridge.

"We're doing a cost benefit analysis to see what makes the most sense and how the city could afford that," Frank said.

Another problem the city is congestion.

"Obviously Demers and Washington quite possibly might be the busiest intersection in the state. The intersection has been studied since 1969, in every long range transportation plan since. We're looking at a new alternative called the continuous flow intersection," transportation engineer Mike Bittner said.

The proposed intersection offers alternatives that will increase capacity and reduce delays.

"The biggest improvement it has is that it won't affect the adjacent businesses as much as some other options that have been looked at i the past, like an interchange," Bittner said.

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