Army Corps of Engineers allocates $100M for diversion work

Patrick Springer
Forum News Service

FARGO, N.D. — The FM Area Diversion Project got a financial boost with the announcement that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide $100 million in funding to move ahead with important construction this year.

The announcement, made Monday, Feb. 10, in Washington, was welcomed by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and leaders of the $2.75 billion metro flood diversion project.

The federal money, which matched what the Metro Flood Diversion Authority requested, will allow construction on important features of the flood control project to proceed on schedule.

“This $100 million in funding will help us to advance construction of permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley and maintain the construction schedule for the project,” Hoeven said in a statement.

When weather allows this spring, work will resume on the diversion channel’s inlet south of Fargo, near the intersection of Cass County 17 and 16 outside Horace.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we worked to provide funding in the Corps’ construction account to ensure that the permanent flood protection project in the Red River Valley would be funded in the Corps’ work plan,” Hoeven added.

Also this spring, work will start on the Wild Rice control structure, which will control flows of the Wild Rice River, a tributary that joins the Red River south of Fargo. The Wild Rice structure, which will be about a mile east of the inlet, is designed to significantly reduce flooding along the Wild Rice River between the control structure and the Red River.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, chairman of the Metro Flood Diversion Authority board, thanked Hoeven and other members of the North Dakota congressional delegation for securing the funding to keep the project on track.

“This project is successful because of the dedication and partnerships that have been built between our federal delegation, the Army Corps, the states of Minnesota and North Dakota, and with our local team at the Diversion Authority,” said Johnathan Judd, mayor of Moorhead and the board’s vice chairman.

The money is part of the federal government’s commitment to provide $750 million toward the project. The state of North Dakota also has committed $750 million, although diversion officials last year asked the state to increase that by $120 million to eliminate a gap in funding caused by design changes and escalating costs resulting from litigation delays.

Local sales taxes approved by voters in Fargo and Cass County will provide more than $1 billion. Officials hope the state of Minnesota will contribute $86 million.

During extreme floods, the flood control project will split the flows of the Red River, diverting half the flows through a 30-mile channel that will skirt the Fargo-Moorhead metro area to the west, temporarily impounding water upstream.

Construction crews work on the inlet structure for the $2.75 billion flood control diversion to protect the Fargo-Moorhead metro area.