Flood protection project begins

Minot breaks ground on long-term flood protection project

Jill Schramm/MDN Shoveling the first dirt Wednesday for the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protect Project are, from left, City Manager Tom Barry, Souris River Joint Board Chairman David Ashley, Sen. John Hoeven, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, Col. Sam Calkins with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mayor Chuck Barney and Public Works Director Dan Jonasson.

The sound of ceremonial shovels scooping dirt and equipment grinding and hauling away trees gave notice Wednesday that the flood protection project residents have been waiting for since 2011 is on its way.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, Col. Sam Calkins with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined local leaders to celebrate ground breaking on the first three phases of flood protection. These segments together extend from the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass to beyond Third Street Northeast.

“This is the most exciting day I have had as mayor of Minot,” Mayor Chuck Barney said at Wednesday’s ceremony, held under a tent near the Minot Water Treatment Plant on 16th Street Southwest.

Hoeven noted the first three phases that are getting started will secure protection for more than half the city. The phases are scheduled for completion in 2020.

Hoeven had worked with the Corps since last July to resolve a delay in getting a federal review completed by the Corps, which finally occurred in December. The completion enabled the Souris River Joint Board to award contracts for constructing flood control infrastructure.

Jill Schramm/MDN Various officials stand with ceremonial shovels as they prepare to break ground for the flood protection project in Minot Wednesday.

“We have to keep working on the final phases to get this done,” Hoeven said. “We need this flood protection. We need to keep going because we need to cover the whole area from Burlington to Velva.”

Hoeven has been working to advance the fourth phase of the project, 65 percent of which will be funded by the Corps of Engineers. This will tie the earlier phases of the project together and deliver flood protection for 60 percent of residents in the Souris River Valley. The federal Fiscal Year 2018 funding legislation includes the Corps’ flood study in the Minot region, a key step that must be completed prior to the construction of phase four.

“There’s still a lot of planning work to do but it’s neat to see the construction started,” added Calkins, commander of the St. Paul District of the Corps. “We are committed to this project. We are proud to be a part as the federal representative.”

“This provides all of us with an opportunity to celebrate collaboration, dedication and hard work,” Sanford said.

The state has committed $178 million with an intent to provide another $130 million. The benefits aren’t just to the people and buildings protected but to the economic engine of the area, Sanford said.

“North Dakota can’t reach its fullest potential until those communities reach theirs. This project brings Minot one step closer to meeting its fullest potential,” he said.

Others on hand were Souris River Joint Board Chairman David Ashley, State Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, and representatives for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, and Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-ND.

Ashley said that although it seems to have taken a while to get to this point, the years have been spent honing and developing the project design, incorporating public and stakeholder input, modeling, analyzing, testing, permitting and identifying and securing funding sources.

Construction will be occurring on the following:

® Phase 1 Fourth Avenue segment, a six-block stretch of levees, floodwalls, a new sanitary lift station, and a major pump station from just west of Broadway to the east side of Third Street Northeast.

® Phase 2 Napa Valley, from the Highway 83 Bypass to 16th Street Southwest, including levees, a road closure structure and two storm water pump stations.

® Phase 3 Forest Road, running along the north side of the river between 16th Street Southwest and the end of Third Avenue Southwest near the intersection of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, primarily featuring earthen levees.

The total cost for the three phases is estimated at $99.4 million. The state is providing 65 percent of the funding, with 35 percent coming primarily from the portion of the Minot city sales tax allocated to flood protection.