Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What about Sam?

Hey, whatever happened to that proposal to rename Grand Forks' Town Square to Sam Silverman Square? I never even got the chance to really meet Sam, but I thought this was a fabulous way to memorialize one of this area's most prominent businessmen and memorable figures. I assume that all the city council would really need to do is issue a proclamation of some sort and buy a new plaque.

I would support either Sam Silverman Square or simply Silverman Square. Actually, I've thought about this and I'm a bit partial to Silverman Square...keep it short and sweet. It would still be honoring Sam and it seems like most cities usually apply only a last name to a public space like least that's what was usually done in the past. I would be happy with either, though.

I've also mentioned this about naming something in town after Hugo Magnuson? He was another prominent local figure whose name - like Sam's - is now synonymous with business in Grand Forks.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Open Thread #44

It's a little early to already start another open thread, but I think it is required when the last one has way over 120 comments. Feel free to continue in Open Thread #43 if you still want to talk about ongoing discussions there or feel free to move your discussions over into this new thread. You people love these open threads more all the time, don't you?

The streets of 2035

The Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization is working on a long term plan of what the metropolitan area's streets and highways may look like circa 2035. The plan outlines a number of improvements to the current transportation network in both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. I think it's always fascinating to think about what our community may look like several decades from now. Click here to take a look at the PDF file of the preliminary 2035 plan.

Some of the projects listed in the preliminary 2035 plan are different than those previously outlined in the current long term transportation plan that the MPO has been using. Among the more notable changes is that the 2035 plan no longer recommends widening both Columbia Road and 32nd Avenue into six-lanes (plus a turn lane). Instead, the new plan recommends making improvements to selected intersections along the corridor to relieve traffic congestion.

The plan separates projects into short-term, mid-term, and long-term categories. The following is an outline of what transportation improvements the MPO is considering for each time period. Keep in mind that this list only includes major changes to the transportation doesn't include general maintenance projects such as reconstructing broken streets.

Short-term (0-5 years):
Extending 48th Street from the Industrial Park to 32nd Avenue...this is part of the city's plan to expand the Industrial Park
Upgrading the system of traffic lights downtown...I assume this means synchronizing the lights to minimize stopping and starting
Gateway Drive "access management"
Improvements to the intersection of 5th Avenue NW and Gateway Drive in EGF

Mid-term (6-15 years):
Merrifield Road interchange with I-29 and Merrifield Road bridge acrss the Red River...both projects are expected to cost a total of $35+ million dollars in that day's dollars
A 17th Avenue South overpass spanning I-29...note that this does not currently include an interchange with I-29
Totally realigning the way 42nd Street meets up with 32nd Avenue South and rebuilding the northbound ramps onto I-29...I'm not sure how this thing is going to work...sounds like a potentially messy intersection
Widening 42nd Street to four-lanes from 17th Avenue South to the 32nd Avenue area
Widening 47th Avenue South to three-lanes between Columbia Road and Washington Street
Adding a roundabout at the intersection of 24th Avenue South and 34th Street
Adding a traffic signal at intersection of Columbia Road and 36th Avenue South...also includes eliminating the break in Columbia Road's median which currently allows traffic to cross Columbia from SuperOne to Wal-Mart...this intersection would become a "3/4 access" intersection
Adding a third southbound lane on Columbia Road from DeMers Avenue ramp to 17th Avenue South
Adding double left-turn lanes at all approaches to intersection of Columbia Road and 17th Avenue South
Adding additional eastbound and westbound through lanes at intersection of DeMers Avenue and Washington Street
Extending northbound ramp at I-29 and DeMers Avenue
Widening Central Avenue from 17th Street to 23th Street in EGF

Long-term (16-28 years):
A new bridge spanning the Red River at 32nd Avenue South...expected to cost $48 million in that day's dollars
A new east-west arterial road connecting the new 32nd Avenue Bridge to Bygland Road in EGF
A 42nd Street overpass or underpass at DeMers Avenue/railroad...expected to cost $40 million in that time's dollars
Widening 32nd Avenue to four-lanes from 48th Street to 52nd Street
Widening Columbia Road to four-lanes from 36th Avenue South to 50th Avenue South
Widening South Washington Street to four-lanes from 48th Avenue South to 57th Avenue South
New traffic signals along DeMers Avenue at intersections with I-29 ramps and 48th Street

Update - 9/24/2007 - 1:20 AM
Tu-Uyen Tran has a story in Monday's paper about the 2035 transportation plan. How come no mention of that pesky roundabout?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New poll: How old?

Time to start a new poll question. The new question is an oldy but a goody: "How old are you?" I think it would be interesting to get a better picture of just who reads this blog.

Don't worry, no one is going to know how old you in particular are...I know some people hate sharing their age. It will simply be interesting to see where this blog's readers fall. I'm guessing that 20s, 30s, and 40s are probably the biggest age groups.

Poll results: WDAZ men

Time to close the "Which male WDAZ personality is your favorite?" here to view the results. Terry Dullum and Milo Smith came out on top...Terry with 31% of the votes and Milo with 30%.

Interesting to note that, even though this poll was open longer than the WDAZ ladies poll, the men's poll didn't see near as many votes cast. Hmmm, guess the men didn't bother to clear their cookies again and again...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Open Thread #43

Another week, another open thread.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A new hospital for Grand Forks

Now comes confirmation that what I reported last month was accurate: the Aurora Hospital is going to be built after all (Herald story).

Plenty of both good and bad things have been said about Grand Forks having a second hospital. In the end, I have to think that there is room in this market for a new hospital and I tend to see this as economic development.

I wish both health care systems a good future. I hope that Altru remains a strong, vibrant health care provider and employer for the community. As for Aurora, I hope that it will provide the second choice that some citizens are seeking and I also hope that it will offer growth and new jobs for Grand Forks. I'm a bit of an optimist, but I see good things in store for both Altru and Aurora.

By the way, I'm still scratching my head over how they're going to build a new hospital on that relatively small lot. How are they ever going to have enough room for a hospital and adequate parking lots? I assume we must be talking about a hospital building that is several floors tall?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Leevers closing?

According to a very interesting tip I received tonight, the Leevers grocery store on South Washington Street will be closing within the next few weeks. Perhaps this blog has some readers who work at Leevers who can confirm or deny this?

If memory serves me correctly, Leevers used to be a 24 hour store but started closing down at night a few months ago. It's possible that scaling back their hours was a sign of things to come. This would be the first grocery store to shut down since the new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on 32nd Avenue last year. I know there have been questions in the past about how many grocery stores Grand Forks can accommodate.

Update - 9/11/2007 - 11:40 PM
It's not just a rumor...Leevers is going to close.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Open Thread #42

I think it's time to start a new open thread when the last one has over 100 comments...and yes, that is a new record.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

GF a job seekers' market?

It seems to me that, as of late, Grand Forks has become a rather good place for job seekers. Businesses around town seem understaffed and in need of workers. Last week, one major store on 32nd Avenue South was reportedly forced to temporarily bring in a dozen employees from the Fargo store because the Grand Forks store was both so busy and so understaffed. Major stores like Wal-Mart and Target have also reportedly been having a very difficult time filling empty positions. Not only are there not enough people to fill jobs around town, but there seems to be more traffic at local businesses which, in turn, requires those businesses to have more and more employees.

I need to mention that it isn't just the retail and service sectors that seem to be underemployed lately. From what I know, all sorts of Grand Forks businesses seem to be in need of workers. If you're looking for a manufacturing job, LM Glasfiber seems to be always hiring. If you're looking for a medical job, I believe both Altru and Aurora are hiring...I would have to think the upcoming construction of the new Aurora Hospital would only add to the need for more medical personal and staff in town. In short, it seems to be a good time to find a job in Grand Forks no matter what line of work you're looking for. At least, that's the impression that I get.

This bring us to the problem...who is going to fill all of the open positions around town? Yes, Grand Forks has been experiencing moderate population growth in recent years, but it still seems as though businesses are having a harder and harder time staffing. With more stores, restaurants, medical centers, manufacturers, and other businesses coming to Grand Forks over the next couple of years and with existing businesses expanding, who are those businesses going to find to hire?

It seems as though this must be a good time to make the move to Grand Forks. We have plenty of jobs, but not enough people to fill all of those jobs. I believe city leaders need to look into how we can attract more people to move to and work in Grand Forks. With so many open positions now and in the near future, it seems to me as though Grand Forks could experience a large gain in population if we can find ways to get the message out that there are jobs to be had in Grand Forks.

I suppose this job seekers' market can be seen in both a good and bad light. It's good in the fact that almost everyone who wants to work can find a job in Grand Forks. On the other hand, will new businesses continue to locate in Grand Forks when existing businesses are having such a hard time finding employees? Unless we can attract a larger population base and more workers to fill empty positions, our economy could potentially start to discourage new businesses from setting up shop here. That would be too bad, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 01, 2007