A group of officials from North Dakota and Minnesota have joined forces with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop a massive flood diversion project using a split-delivery model, in which a public-private partnership will be used to build a large part of the project.
The Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project is intended to prevent flooding from the Red River — which has occurred for 49 of the past 110 years — from inundating Fargo, N.D., much of Moorhead, Minn., and several surrounding communities. A major flood could cause more than $10 billion in damage, the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Board of Authority said.
The $1.8 billion project involves constructing a 36-mile-long, 1,500 foot-wide diversion channel with 32,500 acres of upstream staging, including aqueducts, river inlets and bridges, and a dam, the Diversion Authority and The Construction Index reported.
The Diversion Authority will seek a private developer to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the diversion channel and associated infrastructure and will use state funds and sales taxes to repay the developer over time. USACE will build the dam to reduce the flow of water into the channel using federal funds, reported the Bismarck Tribune. The Development Authority voted Sept. 2 to approve the project during a meeting with USACE Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick during his visit to Fargo to discuss and stress USACE’s desire to pursue it.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said the project’s funding approach would prevent construction delays and reduce federal costs for the project by an estimated $400 million, according to the Star Tribune.
Bostick said Congress is pressing the Corps to show progress on the flood diversion project but provides only about $1.5 billion per year to fund the $23 billion worth of USACE projects. He expressed strong support for the P3 component.
“We can’t wait. The nation can’t wait. You can’t wait,” Bostick said about the project. “So finding a way to think creatively about funding these projects is very important. For the Corps, we’ve hired people who wake up every day and their number one mission is to think about public-private partnerships and to move them forward.”
Construction could begin in 2016 and, according to USACE estimates, may take a decade to complete.