City moves toward opening underpass, finding new city manager

The opening of the Sixth Street underpass could be just days away, and the selection of a new city manager might be on the horizon, too.

Meetings on both those topics have been scheduled for this morning.

City engineer Lance Meyer told the Minot City Council Monday that city staff plan to meet with the Sixth Street Southwest contractor, Capriati, today to discuss the clearing of snow and other final steps needed to re-open the street where it has been closed near Minot Public Library. The earliest the street might open is the end of this week, he said.

“The cold snap that we had really slowed our progress,” Meyer said. But he noted that the signal system is operational. The city will be sanding the roadway before traffic is allowed.

The east-west cross street, Second and Western avenues, will not be opening because of safety concerns. Meyer said the road tie-ins aren’t complete, leaving an unsafe slope.

The city expects to close the Sixth Street underpass for a few weeks this spring to finish the cross traffic tie-ins, sidewalks, storm sewer tie-ins and other leftover work.

The $4.9 million project includes paving, sidewalks, utilities and a large diameter storm sewer outfall/forcemain pipe to the river. The underpass will have increased clearance with improved drainage features, although flooding during heavy rains won’t be eliminated until a pump station is built this year.

Meyer also informed the council that a successful bid-letting on the Broadway bridge project north of Central Avenue in February would allow for work to start in March. The work can start ahead of the regular construction season because the initial task of demolition is not as dependent on weather.

Given the 1,000-foot span of the bridge and the size of the project, the work is expected to continue through the 2014 construction season, Meyer said. The North Dakota Department of Transportation has the lead on the project.

Reconstruction of the southbound lanes will take place in 2014, and the northbound lanes will be rebuilt in 2015. The project will involve removing the aging decks and replacing them, along with new south approach slabs, repair to piers and replacement of a beam line in seven spans. In addition, new street lighting, concrete road barriers and fencing will be installed. Staircases will be removed, and the deck will be expanded slightly to maximize pedestrian pathways that will be included on both sides of the bridge.

In the other meeting today, a selection committee will review information from 36 applicants looking to replace city manager David Waind, who retires at the end of March. The committee plans to winnow the candidate list to 10 and arrange interviews with those applicants.

The list will be further reduced next month. The city’s goal is to have a new manager named and on board to work with Waind in the month before he leaves.

In other business, the council approved a plan to abandon and seal underground vaults that encroach on public property underneath sidewalks in the central business district. The cost of filling the vaults would become part of a downtown infrastructure project, but property owners would pay to remove any internal utilities. The city also will consider encroachment permits for property owners who want to keep vaults that pose no safety concerns.