Gov. Doug Burgum today applauded an announcement by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is awarding a nearly $67 million contract to West Fargo-based Industrial Builders Inc. for the Interstate 29 grade raise portion of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project.
During a roundtable discussion and press conference with Hoeven, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, USACE St. Paul District Commander Col. Karl Jansen and local city and county leaders, Burgum also announced that he plans to sign the $680 million bonding bill that passed the North Dakota Legislature on Thursday. The bill includes $435.5 million for the F-M diversion, ensuring that the state will fulfill its $750 million commitment to the project and increasing the state’s total commitment to $870 million for the $2.75 billion project. A bonding bill was a key piece of Burgum’s executive budget proposal for the 2021-23 biennium.
“When this bill gets to my desk, I’m signing it,” Burgum said during a roundtable discussion on the diversion project.
Burgum stressed the project’s vital importance to protecting life, property and the economy of North Dakota and the region from catastrophic flooding. The governor expressed his gratitude for the efforts and collaboration by Hoeven, Klobuchar and the states’ entire congressional delegations, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, state legislators, local mayors and county commissioners, the diversity authority, landowners and residents.
“This is a model of local, state and federal collaboration,” Burgum said.
Construction on the diversion project began in spring 2017, but a U.S. District Court judge approved a temporary injunction in September 2017 ordering work to stop. The ruling recognized the need for permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead and strongly encouraged all parties to work together to agree on a project that can serve the interests of both states and the affected communities.
Burgum and Dayton met in October 2018 and jointly decided to create the 16-member F-M Area Flood Diversion Task Force to address the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) concerns about the diversion project. The Task Force had eight members from each state, including representatives of upstream and downstream interests. Burgum and Dayton co-chaired the Task Force, which convened five times in three months – aided by technical subcommittees that spent hundreds of hours analyzing alternatives – to try to reach consensus on components of the project. The group’s work ultimately led to the diversion authority submitting a new permit application to the DNR in March 2018, which was ultimately granted.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation has been involved in the design of the I-29 grade raise and will be involved in construction inspections. The project involves a grade raise of I-29 for approximately 4 miles to bring the roadway out of the 500-year staged flood elevation.