Permanent, Reliable Flood Protection
The Red River Valley is one of the most flood-prone inland areas in the U.S. After the devastation of the 1997 flood, there was agreement in the FM area that something needed to be done to prevent a repeat of the catastrophic damage. Work including studies, permits, Congressional action and hard work from many key entities has brought us to today, when construction is underway on the FM Area Diversion.
The FM Area Diversion will provide a permanent solution to protect our communities by using an innovative approach to divert excess water around the metro area during significant flood events. Upon completion of the project, protection will be achieved against a 100-year flood, with river levels not rising above 37 feet through town. In addition, the project will provide fightable protection against a 500-year flood, meaning river levels would not rise above 40 feet through town. For comparison, the record flood in 2009 reached 40.84 feet.
This is an historic project for our area. People around the country and even the world are watching. This project is one of the first large-scale ESG-focused public-private partnership (P3) projects in the U.S., meaning environmental, social and governance factors were considered alongside financial factors in the investment decision-making process. It is also the first-ever P3 done in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the first-ever water management P3 implemented in North America. The project has already won numerous awards for its innovative delivery and design.
Metro Flood Diversion Authority
The Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) is a permanent North Dakota political subdivision led by a board of directors. They are charged with overseeing the delivery, operation and maintenance of the non-federal portions of the project.
The MFDA is responsible for ensuring the safe and timely construction of the FM Area Diversion. By using the P3 approach in its partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Red River Valley Alliance (RRVA), cities of Fargo and Moorhead and Cass and Clay counties, the project will be completed 10 years faster and for tens of millions of dollars less than with traditional construction methods.
P3 Structure Explained
The Metro Flood Diversion Authority is the governing authority, a 13-member Board of Authority and staff.
Red River Valley Alliance (RRVA) is the P3 parter, responsible for designing, constructing, financing, operating, and maintaining the Stormwater Diversion Channel & Associated Infrastructure. RRVA is a joint venture of Acciona, Shikun & Binui and North American Construction Group.
ASN Constructors is the design and construction arm of RRVA, responsible for design and construction of Stormwater Diversion Channel & Associated Infrastructure.
There are four main components of the project, the Southern Embankment and Associated Infrastructure, the Stormwater Diversion Channel and Associated Infrastructure, mitigation projects and local entity flood protection.
The southern embankment work includes a 22-mile earthen embankment and three gated control structures: Diversion Inlet Structure, Wild Rice River Structure and Red River Structure, which are being built by USACE and contractors. It also involves constructing an I-29 bridge crossing and 4-mile grade raise as well as county and township road crossings.
The stormwater diversion channel components include a 30-mile channel, diversion outlet, aqueducts on the Maple and Sheyenne Rivers, 14 drainage inlets, three railroad crossings, four interstate crossings and 12 county road crossings.
Mitigation projects, including wetlands development and planting trees and native grasses, are being completed by the USACE and the MFDA in partnership with city and county governments.
Local entity flood protection, which refers to in-town protection measures such as levees, floodwalls and stormwater lift stations, is being done by city and county governments.
Upon completion, the FM Area Diversion Project will protect 260,000 people, their homes, businesses and property from flooding.
Check out the full article in The Bridge: November – December 2023.
ASN Constructors was formed in 2021 to contract with RRVA to design and construct the Stormwater Diversion Channel and Associated Infrastructure portion of the FM Area Diversion.
ASN Constructors is operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nearly 365 days a year to build the stormwater diversion channel.
ASN Constructors is a mix of local and new-to-the area employees and has prioritized acquiring local talent and using local vendors. ASN Constructors can offer stable year-round work for skilled laborers, operators, carpenters and a variety of other positions. Employees are offered training programs, career advancement and competitive benefits all in a safe work environment.
The workforce impacts on the economy include people hired by ASN Constructors as well as those who work for subcontractors. Hiring has been ramping up since 2021 and will hit a high point during 2024 and 2025 before slowly decreasing until the project nears completion in 2027.
ASN offers an apprenticeship program that focuses on individuals who are new to the industry, have barriers or may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn a trade and receive on-the-job experience and learning as they develop their careers. The apprenticeship program is in full swing and the operating engineers apprentices have completed one semester of related technical instruction. Interest in the apprenticeship program has been incredibly positive, and it is anticipated to continue throughout the project.
Across all parts of the project, thousands of employees are working both in offices and in equipment cabs to make this project a reality and deliver permanent flood protection to Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and surrounding communities.
What does the FM Area Diversion Mean for Our Community?
Completion of the FM Area Diversion gives a peaceful place back to communities and increases outdoor opportunities that are so valued during the spring and summer months. With permanent flood protection, our communities can focus on the warm sunshine, green grass and budding trees instead of worrying about floods, sandbags and devastation.
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