Day four saw the end of our sojourn to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as it was time to move onward to our next destinations. On this day we traveled along I-94 to Fargo, North Dakota where we hooked up with I-29 north for Grand Forks and a stop near the Canadian border. Fargo remained on the scope as the resting place for day five.
The final 2.4 miles of the Minnesota 610 freeway are being built between Hennepin County 81 and Interstate 94. Started in Fall 2014, the project will include a wye interchange for movements from MN 610 west to I-94 west and I-94 east to MN 610 east. The existing 101st Avenue overpass spanning I-94 will also be removed due to close proximity of the interchange. A new bridge carrying 105th Avenue will be erected to the north, linking 101st Avenue with Maple Grove Parkway immediately north of a new interchange with MN 610. Scheduled completion of the nearly $80.3 million project is set for Fall 2016.
Beyond the partial diamond interchange with Wright County 19 (Labeaux Avenue) traffic on Interstate 94 west enters the Minnesota Department of Transportation research area. Known as MnROAD, this stretch of freeway is used as a test area for various research materials and pavements, finding ways to improve road and highway longevity, quicker, more efficient construction methods, and figuring out how to have a minimal impact on the environment. In use since 1993, a nearly 3.5-mile segment of westbound carriageway between Exit 201 and Exit 194 is divided into mainline (test track) and bypass. The bypass lanes represent the original westbound carriageway of I-94 prior to construction of the research test area. Testing on the mainline is done periodically, and was open the morning we traveled through the area.
The trunk extends northerly as an expressway with several at-grade crossings and a few interchanges, including a diverging diamond (DDI) at Sterns County 120. Kimball lies 14 miles to the south in lower Sterns County.
The portion between Carlton and Motley of the 228-mile highway was formerly U.S. 210 until 1970 when that route was decommissioned and resigned as MN 210.
The weather deteriorated into rain as we drove closer to the Moorhead-Fargo area, and continuing for the remainder of the ride through Minnesota and into North Dakota.
Interstate 94 turns almost due west as it approaches the city of Moorhead, located on the Minnesota / North Dakota border and adjacent to Fargo. Moorhead is also home to the only business loop for I-94 in Minnesota. Emanating from Exit 2B (34th Street) I-94 Business Loop heads into central Moorhead where it joins U.S. 10 (Main Avenue) through to Fargo. The duo both culminate at I-94 in West Fargo.
The eastern end of the business loop was relocated in 2010 when 34th Street was extended to meet I-94 at a new interchange (now former Exit 2). As part of this project, the existing interchange with SE Main Avenue (where the business loop met I-94) was removed. Controversy between the City of Moorhead and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ensued because the city wanted to retain two ramps at the existing Exit 2 while the FHWA denied this request, and as a result, local businesses suffered. In December 2011, the FHWA overturned their previous ruling of the closing and by 2013 a partial interchange had been reconstructed at SE Main Avenue (Exit 2A). A construction project beginning Spring 2016 will see the existing diamond interchange at U.S. 75 (Exit 1A) be replaced with a diverging diamond interchange.
The business loop briefly follows 34th Street using 24th Avenue to make the connection with SE Main Avenue to downtown. Exit 2A serves eastbound I-94 traffic only, connecting with SE Main Avenue, the former terminus of the Moorhead-Fargo business loop.
Periods of rain continued on the drive into North Dakota and along Interstate 29 north toward Grand Forks and Pembina near the Canadian border.
With the wet weather subsiding, we ventured into Grand Forks and its counterpart East Grand Forks on the Minnesota side, taking U.S. 81 Business east (32nd Avenue South) and north (Washington Street) to reach the heart of both cities.
Work commenced the week of June 12, 2015 to rehabilitate the Sorlie Bridge linking Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. The 1929-built bridge spans the Red River and carries U.S. 2 Business into neighboring Minnesota. Work is to be completed by end of Fall 2015.
An evaluation by MnDOT is currently being studied to determine long-range plans and solutions for the aging crossing linking East Grand Forks to Grand Forks.
On the final approach to the Pembina border crossing into Canada lies the historical site of Dumoulin Church and a Métis cemetery.
Founded in 1818 by Father Josef Severe Dumoulin, the Catholic church became a safe haven for the Métis (combination of the Chippewa, Cree and French) people.1,2 Along with the church, a mission and cemetery were built on the lands adjacent to the church. The mission was forced to close in 1823 when the Hudson Bay Company (fur trade) discovered that the site was south of the 49th Parallel (in the United States, not Canada).3 In 1848, Father Belcourt arrived at Pembina. He rebuilt and operated the church and mission until 1863, when cannon fire from Hatch’s Battalion destroyed it. For over 60 years the site became a source of controversy as the land on which the church and cemetery resided has been cultivated and farmed. In 2001, however, a portion of the land was granted custody to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, who maintain the area in and around the historical, sacred site.1
Leaving Pembina and the Canadian border behind, we wrapped up day four with a return trip southward into the rain once more, winding back up in the Fargo area by way of I-29, North Dakota 200, U.S. 75 and U.S. 10.
Day five of our Midwest tour will cover continued travels along the I-29 corridor south from Fargo through to Omaha, Nebraska, including Sioux Falls and Sioux City.
- “Turtle Mountain tribal members pray at Metis cemetery”, bismarcktribune.com, May 21, 2008.
- Ecclesiastical History, North Dakota section, www.newadvent.org
- Blog post on the “The History of the Pembina Metis Cemetery: Inter-Ethnic Perspectives on a Sacred Site”,http://56755.blogspot.ca/2007/08/history-of-pembina-metis-cemetery.html, August 7, 2007.