Fasten your seatbelts: Construction on South University Drive starts Monday

Published: May. 13, 2018 at 6:32 PM CDT
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It wasn't too long ago that drivers had to worry about hazardous road conditions.

Now, the ice has melted and the snow is cleared, but drivers’ worries aren't over just yet—as construction season heads underway.

South University Drive's makeover starts Monday. Heidi Roggenkamp owns Randy's University Diner, which is right on the drive between 18th and Oak Manor avenues—right around where the upcoming construction will end.

"It's unavoidable this time of year, unfortunately,” Roggenkamp said. “Any business owner is worried about it, especially when you're locally owned."

She says her biggest rush comes in the morning, between 8 and 10 a.m.

"I think during the heavy traffic times in the morning and during rush hour it might be a little more difficult because people will probably take a quicker way," she said.

But Kevin Gorder, assistant district engineer for the North Dakota Department of Transportation, says the road needs it.

"People that drive here obviously know it's a pretty rough pavement,” he said, “so it's time to replace some pavement."

But in the meantime, drivers will need patience—as the six driving lanes go down to four.

Fargo mom, Megan Dahl, says she’ll be glad to see the upgrades.

"The roads do need some improvement,” she said, “just you know they're bumpy and could use some smoothing out."

But even though it won't affect her work commute to Moorhead, she says it will put some speed bumps in her summer plans.

"We're out and about all summer long,” Dahl said, “heading to parks and different swimming even just heading to the mall and stuff will take a little longer, but I'm grateful for living in a city that wants to improve itself."

To make room for traffic shifts, construction workers will remove the drive's median—but afterward

it'll be replaced with a longer median to reduce left turns.

"Right now it's just kind of a continuous left-turn lane with a lot of driveways on the left side,” NDDOT’s Kevin Gorder said, “so just allow one left turn into the driveways, and focus that area so the public eye knows where the traffic's coming from, and hopefully makes it a lot safer as we're doing things like that."

Mom Megan Dahl says she and her daughter will just allow more time before leaving.

"And we'll probably do a little more biking this summer," she said.

While diner owner, Heidi Roggenkamp, says she'll keep her fingers crossed—but she's not overly worried.

"A majority of our clientele are regulars, that we see either daily or specific days of the week,” she said, “we know them by first name, they're just like family to us, so I think they'll still come."

Plus, the construction won't last forever: it has to end, before more snow and ice comes.

Once the project is complete, here's what we can look forward to:

-South University Drive will have three-lane driving lanes, plus interstate turning lanes in each direction.

-Safety improvements will increase interest in usage of the interchange and reduce conflict points

-One driveway will be consolidated—otherwise all other business access and parking lot driveways will remain on South University.