HORACE, N.D. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Board of Authority hosted a 1997 Flood Commemoration and Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project April 17.
The ground breaking was held where the diversion project’s inlet control structure will be located, south of Horace, North Dakota. The control structure marks the beginning of federal construction and the first major step towards permanent flood risk management for this community. This particular day was selected because it was the 20th anniversary of the day the Red River of the North crested in Fargo and Moorhead during the historic flood of 1997.
The communities of Fargo and Moorhead and the St. Paul District have a long history. The three have fought floods side-by-side going back to at least the 1950s to include the floods of 1997 and the flood of record in 2009. Since 2008, this partnership has included working together to design a flood risk management project that will provide a permanent solution to reduce the menace of flooding, a constant threat to this region.
“For over 20 years, we’ve all experienced the unbelievable stories of heartache and heroism from the floods of 1997 and 2009, along with the impact they have made upon the lives of citizens in Fargo-Moorhead and the surrounding area,” said Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney. “Our people have waited patiently for many years for this moment and now the wait is finally over. We are officially breaking ground on the project that will keep us safe from flooding.”
The diversion project includes a 30-mile long diversion channel in North Dakota with upstream staging, a 12-mile long southern embankment, 19 highway bridges, four railroad bridges, three gated control structures and two aqueduct structures. Once complete, it will significantly reduce flood risk for more than 230,000 people and 70 square miles of infrastructure in the communities of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Horace and Harwood.
The project is being implemented using a public private partnership with split delivery in an attempt to improve delivery of federal projects. This is an innovative approach for the Corps of Engineers, and the Corps named this project as an alternative financing “demonstration project.”
The split delivery plan includes the project sponsors constructing the diversion channel using a public private partnership to finance, design, build, operate and maintain their portion of the project. The Corps will design and construct the southern embankment portion. The split delivery approach reduced the federal share of this project from $850 million to $450 million and will reduce delivery time by more than 50 percent.
“Our goal is to complete this project as quickly and efficiently as possible to both save money and reduce flood risk for the communities,” said Terry Williams, St. Paul District program manager. “With optimal funding, an operational project can be in place by 2024.”
Williams said the event was a great success. “Many dedicated people have put their heart and soul into making this project a reality,” she said. “It was very rewarding to finally break ground and celebrate the teamwork it took to get here!”
In addition to Mahoney, other dignitaries attending the ceremony included Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams, North Dakota Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, a representative of Congressman Kevin Cramer’s office, Mississippi Valley Division Commander Maj. Gen. Mike Wehr and St. Paul District Commander Col. Sam Calkins.