Enhancing the town

Backhoes are expected to move in on downtown Minot in August. In preparation, the design work on a major downtown infrastructure improvement project is nearing completion. Engineers and city officials unveiled specifics at an open house Tuesday.

Much of the downtown’s 75- to 100-year-old water, sewer, sanitary sewer and other below-ground infrastructure is to be replaced.

“It’s not sized to handle the new growth that we can see with multi-use apartments and commercial facilities and all the other opportunities that can happen in a vibrant downtown,” city engineer Lance Meyer said.

The city received an $18 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and will be assessing downtown property owners for the remaining cost of the improvements. In addition to underground infrastructure, streets will be redone with concrete, and there will be new curb and gutters, sidewalks and street lighting in about 26 city blocks.

Houston Engineering and MWH Americas are in charge of the design work. They are assisted on the above-ground project by a Colorado firm, 505 Design.

“They have done a lot of good work on this project. I am very confident we are going to get a very nice product,” Meyer said.

Stan Hanson with Houston Engineering outlined project features and timelines to a crowd gathered at the open house in the Municipal Auditorium. The work scheduled to start at the end of this summer will occur on the periphery of the downtown. Additional work around the downtown will occur in 2015 and 2016.

The area affected is between Broadway and Third Street Southeast and between Burdick Expressway and 1st Avenue North. Broadway and Burdick traffic will not be disrupted during the work. Third Street will be closed for 15 to 20 days this fall.

Business will continue to have access while streets and sidewalks are under construction.

The completed project will present some new streetscape elements. The three blocks of Main Street between Central and Second Avenue South will feature riverfront, railroad and prairie themes.

“It’s a different thing to attract people down there and give them something to remember,” Hanson said.

The plan also calls for “bumpouts,” or expanded pedestrian areas around intersections that narrow the roadway to make crossings safer. The five downtown traffic signals are considered unwarranted and will be removed, Hanson said. Central and Second avenues and Main Street will become through-ways, with cross traffic making the stops.

Parking will remain, although handicapped accessible spaces will be enlarged. New LED street lights will replace existing fixtures. Trees will not survive the underground work so will be removed and replaced, Hanson said.

New benches, trash cans, planters, kiosks and monuments will complete the downtown look.

Maps and details of the project go online today at (www.DowntownMinotisopen.com). Odney is handling social media and other communications related to the project. Public meetings will be held weekly during the construction seasons.