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A map of the proposed project area and phases of construction.

Seeking Urban Grant Program Assistance for Project to Improve Downtown Avenues

The City Commission recently approved an application for the downtown street improvement district – a project that would improve the avenues and First Street NW in the core downtown area.

Past applications for this project have been submitted in 2019 and 2021. In 2019, a partial award was offered but not accepted, and in 2021 the application was unsuccessful. The Engineering Department has since revised the application, with a three-phase approach working west to east, about four blocks at a time:

  • Phase I is Fourth Ave NW to Sixth Ave NW;
  • Phase II is Second Ave NW to east of Fourth Avenue NW, addressing the avenues south of First Street; and
  • Phase III is east of Second Ave NW to Collins Ave, including Second and Third Avenues north of First Street.

The Engineering Department is planning for a concrete surface in the project area. In the past, asphalt was considered, but given the importance of the downtown environment and preferring not to do the project again in 20 years, concrete is the preferred treatment for the roadway.

For each phase of funding, the federally participating amount of construction work is estimated at nearly $4 million. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Urban Grant Program provides funding of up to 80%, which would be about $3.2 million. However, the maximum amount that has been granted to any one project through the program was $2.63 million. Using this as a guideline, the Engineering Department is applying for $2.6 million in each phase of the project in subsequent years. The NDDOT is currently soliciting projects for 2025 and 2026 construction, so the City will need to reapply for funding next year for the third phase to take place in 2027.

The City’s request represents about 65% of the project’s construction cost for each phase. If awarded, the City with have to consider other ways to make up the difference.

The application will go first to the Bismarck Mandan Metropolitan Planning Organization and then on to NDDOT for consideration. Notification of award is anticipated later this year.