Tenth Street Gets a Makeover in Downtown Fargo
Upgrading to Urban Standards: North Dakota DOT Works Around a Lift Station and a University to Update 10th Street
A major road in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, is getting an update to improve safety, upgrade pedestrian facilities and increase load-carrying capacity. The work has progressed well.
“The whole project was brought forward because of pavement conditions and ride quality scores that were poor,” says Aaron Murra, Transportation Engineer with the North Dakota Department of Transportation Design Division and the Department of Transportation Support Center, a research and education facility at North Dakota State University (NDSU).
U.S. Hwy. 81/10th Street North, a one-way road, was built during the 1930s. In 1969, the city street become a northbound one-way when paired with University Drive as a southbound one-way. Tenth Street North was officially recognized as Business U.S. 81 on the State Highway System that same year.
About 14,000 vehicles drive on the one-way road daily. With some repairs during the 1990s, the city and department of transportation decided it was time for an overhaul to bring the road up to current urban standards.
Adding to the complexity of the project, a lift station owned by the Burlington Northern railroad was under a railroad overpass. Tenth Street runs under the railroad bridge. The lift station also was aging and insufficient in removing storm water.
“Everything was getting old and it was time to look at the corridor,” Murra says.
Scope of Work
Prior to construction, Murra explains the department considered work zone safety, alternative solutions, and events taking place in the area and how people would be affected by the project. It decided to turn University Drive’s two lanes to one in each direction, temporarily to remove all traffic from 10th Street, except for resident vehicles and pedestrians.
“That corridor is a major north-south vehicle and pedestrian corridor, with a school and university to the north,” says Roger E. Kluck, Engineer II Storm Water for the City of Fargo. “The DOT provided a good alternative.”
NDDOT completely reconstructed eight blocks of 10th Street, including signals, railings, and drainage and concrete pavement improvements. The work runs from 4th Avenue to 12th Avenue North. The project also includes construction of a 6-foot-wide bicycle lane, and installation of bus shelters and decorative railings and lighting. The NDDOT limited the contractor to work on two of the four reconstruction phases at the same time.
Federal money funded 80 percent of project, and the state and city 10 percent each. The sanitary sewer and water main work were 100 percent funded by City of Fargo to complete the citywide effort to upgrade services for residents and businesses.
The NDDOT Design Section collaborates with NDSU, teaching college engineering students the design process. Between 12 and 14 students participate. Those students designed the road portion of the 10th Street project.
The program aims to familiarize students with the department’s processes and transportation issues and encourage them to stay and work in the field in North Dakota. The students learn Microstation/Geopak, the software used by the department, and assist with research. They also can shadow a NDDOT field engineer for a week during the summer.
Houston Engineering of Fargo designed the lift station and provided field staff during construction. Ulteig of Fargo designed the water main portion of the project for the city.
Master Construction of Fargo received the construction contract and began work in May 2018. Work paused during the winter and resumed in May 2019, after NDSU ended its spring semester. The university straddles the project.
The contractor’s use of GPS on the underpass portion of the project was limited due to it being lower than grade. Crews could not get a signal at times so traditional surveying and staking were used. The department provides contractors with 3-D machine control files for grading and paving.
NDDOT worked with Burlington Northern on safety coordination, engineering, and constructability during the road reconstruction, since it runs within the rail right of way. The railroad gave the new lift station to the city.
“The railroad was interested in not having to maintain this structure anymore,” says Gabe Bladow, Civil Engineer with Houston Engineering. “The coordination went a lot smoother than most projects that impact a railroad.”
Moving the Lift Station
Kluck reports that the city worked with the railroad about moving the lift station and acquiring new land for it to sit on. The railroad’s lift station was built at the time of the road, when the state created the underpass, Kluck reports. During the 1970s, the lift station was upgraded with a dedicated storm drain.
Because Fargo is rather flat, lift stations are needed to move storm water up and into the storm-sewer system. The city has about 80 stormwater lift stations. This underpass is a long way from a drainage outlet.
“The lift station is necessary here to pump areas that go below existing grade, and this is one of them,” Kluck says.
The corridor is tight for space, so the team determined it would be best not to remove the old lift station.
Instead, crews are cutting the system off and removing everything until about 5 feet below grade and covering it with low-density fill and dirt to bury it.
Crews used a beam-and-plate shoring system before building the new lift station, because of its being in close proximity to a building. The shoring was removed after the structure was built. The contractor also is using directional boring equipment to install new utility lines below the railroad tracks.
The lift station was constructed with retaining wall on three sides of the pump station that is integral to the structure. It’s all one monolithic structure and is positioned against the underpass’s slope. Decorative railings and fences enhance the aesthetics, Bladow says.
The new lift station can pump 7,200 gallons per minute. It is 11 feet wide by 19 feet long. It was built across 10th Street from the old pump station. In large part, the site was selected to allow the old pump station to keep working while the new one was built, Bladow says.
“The real challenge was finding a way to site the new pump station, and the location is one of the few we could have placed it,” Bladow says.
As of May, the old lift station was still operating, with plans to transition to the new one later this year.
The City of Fargo, Houston Engineering and NDDOT kept management staff on site during construction Bladow says.
NDDOT made sure residents continued to have access, water, and trash service and information about the project’s plans and progress.
“Everybody had a strong effort on this one, and it worked out well,” Murra says.
Kluck praises the cooperation between the students, consultants, DOT, the contractor and the railroad and residents.
“It was a good team effort and will be successful when it is all done,” Kluck concludes.