Kennedy Bridge on Highway 2 only bridge open to Grand Forks
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Here we go again.
For the second year in a row, the rising Red River prompted officials on both sides of the Red River to close two of the three bridges connecting Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
The good news? The inconvenience should last as long as it did in 2009, when the Sorlie and the Point bridges were closed for about three weeks.
"We hated to close the Sorlie Bridge, but it's something we had to do," said Randy Gust, East Grand Forks emergency manager. "Hopefully, this will be very temporary. The National Weather Service says the river should recede a little quicker than last year, so we hope the river crests by Monday or Tuesday. Our goal is to get DeMers Avenue open as soon as possible."
Barricades went up on both sides of the Point Bridge at 9 a.m. The Sorlie was closed an hour later so workers could begin closing the flood wall. By 5 p.m., there was some traffic congestion downtown, but the main point of snarl was, as expected, along Gateway Drive near the Kennedy Bridge on both sides of the river.
Also, East Grand Forks crews began constructing small berms on both sides of Third Avenue Southeast near the Louis Murray Bridge. Drivers should watch for heavy equipment. The Louis Murray Bridge typically does not close until the Red River nears 48.5 feet.
Last year, when the Louis Murray Bridge closed, the only access to The Point area of East Grand Forks was by way of the Mallory Bridge on Highway 220 South.
Grand Forks County officials say they've been steadily mapping highways and roads where overland flooding has been reported. Officials reminded motorists to use caution on county and township roads as conditions will change daily and rising water will make some roads impassable.
A map of highway road condition information from the North Dakota Department of Transportation can be found at www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info.
For roads in northwest Minnesota, log on to www.511mn.org
James R. Johnson is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.