Don’t delay 21st Avenue updgrades

We understand the need to be good stewards of public money. But we also understand the safety issues surrounding improvements on 21st Avenue Northwest, and that puts the city in an unfortunate situation.

A?project that would construct sewer line along 21st Avenue Northwest between 12th Street and 16th Street and install traffic lights at 16th Street and 21st Avenue could be delayed for another year after the lone bid of $2.26 million coming in 31 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate.

The Minot City Council’s Finance and Improvements Committee recommended the council reject the bid. If the council does that, the project would be rebid in the fall, and construction wouldn’t take place until next spring.

With housing being steadily built on North Hill, and with the recently opened MarketPlace Foods bringing more traffic to the area, 21st Avenue Northwest has become busier than ever, and traffic will certainly increase again when the new Erik?Ramstad Middle School opens later this year. There are temporary stop signs at the intersection of 21st Avenue and 16th Street, but not all motorists are paying attention to the signs. It’s quickly become a busy and unsafe intersection. One option is to install battery-operated traffic signals, but city officials say they can be costly and sometimes unreliable

We know it’s a lengthy process, but it’s unfortunate the project couldn’t have been already under way. MarketPlace has been under construction for more than a year, and housing in the area has been booming for at least that long, so the fact that traffic is increasing certainly isn’t a surprise.

Now the council has a difficult decision to make: Spend more money (80 percent of which is coming from the federal Economic Development Administration) to do the project now and improve safety on 22st Avenue Northwest, or hope bids come in lower this fall and start the project next spring.

We don’t like to spend money unwisely, but there’s no guarantee new bids will be lower the second time around. We suggest the council reluctantly approve the current bid and get the project finished as soon as possible.