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Red River flood diversion gets federal funding

FARGO -- The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion has received federal funding to start construction, a major milestone for the project, according to North Dakota's U.S. senators.

FARGO - The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion has received federal funding to start construction, a major milestone for the project, according to North Dakota's U.S. senators.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has set aside $5 million for work in fiscal year 2016 and put the Red River diversion on its list of projects, according to the offices of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D.

That shows continued commitment from the agency, Heitkamp said today. Typically, corps commitment begins with agreeing to study the feasibility of a project, which the agency has already done with the diversion, she said. Getting on the project list is the next milestone that makes the diversion eligible for future funding, she said.

"The key is to get the project started and keep it going and get it built," Hoeven said today.

The $5 million is only for the work that can be completed this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, according to Hoeven. And it assumes the lawsuit by upstream opponents is resolved and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources OKs the project, which includes a dam stretching into that state's side of the river.

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The total project cost has been estimated at $1.8 billion, about half of that paid for by the federal government and the other half by state and local governments. North Dakota's Legislature has set aside the state's share, but made it contingent on federal funding.

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