Bridges lifted, construction slowed by heavy rain

The Third Street underpass in downtown Moorhead was closed this week. Moderate flooding on the Red River was expected to crest at 22.7 feet as of press time.Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Heavy May rainfall has caused a number of changes to traffic this week, affecting both the pedestrian and biking trail along the Red River and the Third Street underpass in downtown Moorhead. Construction work on the 11th Street double underpass, which has already heavily impacted access to downtown and the north side of the city, has also been slowed because of the weather.
As of Monday, the National Weather Service had recorded more than 5 inches of rain – more than 2 inches above the average amount received by this point in the year, all of it accumulated since the beginning of May.
It’s the first time that excessive rain and the rising Red have affected Moorhead since spring 2022, when the river crested at 26.5 feet. This spring’s crest was predicted (at press time) to reach only 22.7 feet – a moderate level far below than the record flood of 40.8 feet in 2009, as well as lesser but still serious flooding in 2019 and 2020. The National Weather Service’s predicted high point, though, is still enough to cause inconvenience to residents still coming off the exceptionally dry year that preceded this one.
Most affected by high water are those who frequent the Red River Trail as it winds through the river corridor. Pedestrian and bicycle bridges were lifted across from Oak Grove Park near the High Rise and Gooseberry Mound Park just north of Interstate 94. The floating bridge at the Midtown Dam has also been temporarily removed.
Water covers the trail in a number of areas, including the approaches to all three pedestrian bridges and between Davy, Memorial and Riverfront parks above of First Avenue North.
Construction crews working on the 11th Street underpasses, too, have been affected by rain and the muddy puddles it has left behind. Dirt work at the shoo-fly – the temporary rails that will carry trains as the main tracks are moved to their pair of overpasses – was paused, as it was on the roadway. According to the Department of Transportation, demolition of neighboring structures not only continued, but benefited from the rain: It kept the dust down while crews were working. They were able to pour concrete for the foundation of the outfall structure, sheet piling and shoring for the lift station underway at First and 11th. They also continued to haul away contaminated soil.
Another traffic change this week is related not to rainy conditions, but to the start of construction on 600 Center, Sterling Development’s new mixed-use building at the corner of Center Avenue and Seventh Street. Beginning June 3, visitors heading for City Hall, the Department of Motor Vehicles and several other businesses still open in what remains of the Center Mall will have to access the north entrance on the west side via Third Avenue. Access from the east side is expected to close permanently on June 3.
Finally, the steady rain over the past two weeks prompted the city to remind residents that sump pump hoses must be drained outside into the city’s storm water system. Discharging that water into their sanitary sewers through indoor drains – already banned year-round except with special waivers – may overload the system, potentially leading to basement back-ups.

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