Bridges close between Grand Forks, East Grand Forks
Two of the three bridges connecting Grand Forks and East Grand Forks will close Thursday because of the rising Red River.
The Point Bridge, which connects First Street South in East Grand Forks with Minnesota Avenue in Grand Forks, will close about 9 a.m. The Sorlie Bridge on DeMers Avenue likely will close before noon.
"We'll allow people to use The Point to get to work or school, but they should plan to return using the Kennedy Bridge (on Gateway Drive)," said Kevin Dean, Grand Forks public information officer.
East Grand Forks officials have not discussed closing the Louis Murray Bridge that connects The Point area to the south with the north end of the city.
"The river level would have to reach 48.5 feet," said Erin Johnson of the East Grand Forks administrative office. "For now, they plan to leave it open as long as possible."
Grand Forks declared a state of emergency late Tuesday morning to prepare for high water coming north from the Red River and its tributaries. Water from the Red Lake River crest Monday in Crookston is expected to move through Grand Forks by tonight.
The Red River at East Grand Forks stood at 37.38 feet Tuesday afternoon. The National Weather Service expects the river to reach at least 48 feet by Tuesday in its seven-day outlook. The 10-day forecast is for below-normal precipitation and cooler temperatures, good conditions for a slower melt and lower river levels.
Flood controls are in place to protect the cities from a flood crest up to 57 feet, officials said.
With the two bridge closings Thursday, East Grand Forks Police Chief Mike Hedlund reminded motorists to plan ahead to minimize traffic delays on the Kennedy Bridge on U.S. Highway 2. Peak times for traffic are 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., officials said.
The Greater Grand Forks Greenway has been closed for safety reasons, and closures have been put up in Riverside Park, Lincoln Drive Park and the dog park in Grand Forks. Access points have been closed at Elmwood Drive, Second Avenue North and Seventh Avenue North.
Fourth Street/River Road in East Grand Forks was closed all the way to the underpass before noon Tuesday. The off-ramp from U.S. Highway 2 is closed.
Crews continue to assemble the floodwall on the boardwalk in East Grand Forks adjacent to the river and should be finished in a couple of days, officials said.
Crews from both East Grand Forks and Grand Forks have been disassembling rail guards at both pedestrian bridges over the Red River.
Grand Forks activated the English Coulee Pump Station on Tuesday. To minimize the amount of water that must be pumped through the station, the gates on Drain No. 9 are closed, diverting English Coulee flows into the English Coulee Diversion. The gates will remain closed until the river level drops to about 40 feet, said Mark Walker, assistant city engineer.