Local leadership should have plans B and C for flood control projects

As a component of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project, it has been determined that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad track needs to be raised from the Lowe’s Garden Center area to Broadway by as much as six feet. That, in turn, means that the historic Third Street bridge must also be altered to accommodate the required height.

Experts assert that the current bridge has outlived its usefulness and instead of attempting to raise the 83-year-old bridge, it should be replaced.

The Souris River Joint Board is pursuing a $25 million federal BUILD grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation to help raise the tracks and replace the bridge. That funding is critical to the projected $75.76 million track elevation and bridge replacement, with additional funds coming from BNSF and a smaller portion from Minot’s sales tax and state legislative appropriations, each of which would each provide just over $6 million as part of the flood protection project, plus any additional money that might be needed to cover costs.

With roughly a third of the proposed project investment envisioned to come from the federal BUILD grant, what happens if the grant isn’t approved?

There are other examples of aspects of flood protection – as currently anticipated – that could become reliant upon the success of grant applications.

Yes, the state congressional delegation has influence in this administration and will work hard to guide the application through the process. Yes, it’s a rather challenging argument to make that the flood control project isn’t crucial.

Still, what if one or more grant applications is denied? What if the economy tanks, budgets are cut and there is suddenly less funding available for grants?

Is there a plan B? A plan C? What are the other options if the federal government becomes unresponsive?

While it seems unlikely given the crucial nature of the overall flood protection project, stranger things have happened.

Minot Daily News encourages project leadership to continue to seek additional or alternative funding sources. MDN, furthermore, has confidence that they will.

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