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Man drives through fresh concrete on I-94 in Fargo

A worker uses a saw to cut into fresh concrete Thursday morning after a pickup truck pulling a trailer drove through it Wednesday night on a new lane being added to the westbound lane of Interstate 94 just east of the 45th Street exit in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

The North Dakota Highway Patrol on Thursday ticketed an Alabama man who drove through a freshly paved section of Interstate 94 in Fargo, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage and prolonging lane closures for frustrated motorists.

Jadick Vladimir, 62, of Theodore, Ala., was issued a $20 citation for driving through a safety zone around barricades.

Vladimir told authorities he was driving a pickup pulling a

30-foot camper trailer at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when he became confused by the barrels and cones in the construction zone on westbound I-94 between

I-29 and 45th Street, patrol Lt. Bryan Niewind said.

"He thought he was exiting off the interstate and ran into this wet concrete," Niewind said.

The pickup and trailer left tire ruts up to 6 inches deep in the third driving lane being added to I-94.

The damage was discovered early Thursday, and the patrol found the pickup and trailer parked at nearby Petro Travel Center at about 9:20 a.m.

Kevin Gorder, assistant district engineer for the DOT's Fargo district, said a 650-foot-long, 22-foot-wide stretch of road must be removed and repaved.

"We're going to want to make sure we have a real solid fix so we don't have to be out there in two or three years because we didn't quite get it all," he said.

Gorder called it a "minor setback" for the construction timeline, but said it will require another seven to 10 days of lane closures.

Westbound I-94 was already reduced to one lane, creating significant delays. Traffic was backed up to University Drive during rush hour Wednesday.

"It's frustrating for us and the traveling public that we were so close to getting it done and now we'll have to redo it," DOT Project Engineer Joe Peyerl said.

The pickup had to cross two sets of traffic control devices - a row of orange barrels and tubular markers - to get onto the tender concrete, which was paved Wednesday afternoon, Peyerl said.

"Where he drove in, it was a little harder," he said. "Then as he was proceeding west, the concrete was getting more and more tender, so he was almost at the point of getting stuck, so he pulled out of it."

It wasn't clear who will pay for the damage. The Highway Patrol doesn't assign fault in such cases, leaving it to the insurance companies for the driver and contractor, Niewind said. Northern Improvement owns the concrete until the project is done, he said.

Last October, someone drove through 500 feet of wet concrete on 12th Avenue North, causing about $25,000 in damage.

The Highway Patrol reminded drivers to be aware of changing circumstances in construction zones.

Police to monitor construction zone

The North Dakota Highway Patrol has issued 217 traffic citations and 131 warnings in Fargo's 45th Street South construction zone since March 24.

The citations and warnings are for infractions ranging from speed and right-of-way violations to equipment violations. They have also arrested nine people for driving under the influence.

There have been 21 reported traffic crashes in the construction zone since March 24. Of those, two involved injuries and the rest involved property damage only.