The Otter Tail Valley Railroad crossed the first bridge to be completed in Moorhead’s massive SE Main/20-21st Street over pass project on Thursday, June 9 – a long-anticipated milestone that marks unmistakable progress in the city’s most expensive and often-delayed revision of a notorious traffic tangle near Moorhead High School.
That bridge will likely see one train a day, now that Otter Tail Valley’s temporary tracks are free to be removed. The remaining two will both carry heavier BNSF traffic, currently eight to ten trains per day.
The second of the three bridges – the overpass above 21st Street – has also been completed. But BNSF locomotives will continue to use their temporary tracks for many more months while the final bridge, which crosses above 21st Street, is being built. Sited on the tightest spot, it lies within a dozen yards of the BN temporary tracks. A temporary earthen retention system is being installed for safety.
After work on the final bridge is done, the remaining street construction under the overpasses will go into high gear. As it now stands, Ames Construction is looking toward a conclusion sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2022.
Two weeks of round-the-clock excavation began Monday. The Moorhead City Council approved the short-term work last month after turning down a proposal to accelerate completion of the entire project, with the possibility of opening the intersection in November. That would have required 24-hour construction shifts and added more than $2 million to the $52 million project, which began four years ago. Work will return to normal, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., on June 28.
– Nancy Edmonds Hanson