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Published November 10 2011

Northern stretch of diversion to be finalized by end of month

FARGO – Local consultants are plowing ahead on technical and public relations work for the proposed Red River diversion.

Specifically, engineers want to finalize the northern stretch of the diversion’s alignment by the end of this month, said Tom Waters, the Diversion Authority’s project management team leader.

In an update to the authority Thursday, Waters said crews are scrutinizing the proposed route north of Interstate 94 west of Fargo to make small adjustments as needed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ feasibility study outlines a proposed path for the 36-mile channel, but this current survey work will pin down that alignment, Waters said.

The diversion route will be finalized later south of Interstate 94, where many residents oppose the proposed alignment and take issue with other aspects of the project.

Corps officials have said repeatedly that any changes to the proposed alignment would be by “feet, not miles.”

Waters said “minor revisions” could be made to avoid homes or other impediments or to lower the cost of the estimated $1.78 billion project.

A team of three corps engineers and three local consultants will develop criteria to guide whether any alignment changes will be made, Waters said.

As part of firming up the alignment, engineering crews have focused their initial efforts on designing the structure to manage outflows from the diversion into the Red River north of Argusville, said Mark Bittner, Fargo city engineer and one of the project’s local technical consultants.

Waters and Bittner could not immediately say Thursday how many properties would be affected by the final alignment north of

I-94. But as part of the discussions, Bittner said engineers are also considering how much land they might need temporarily just to build the project.

Corps engineers plan to meet with affected landowners in December to explain the finalized path to them, answer questions and hear concerns, Waters said.

Also Thursday, Diversion Authority members got their first peek at the website being built to educate and inform residents about the project.

Communications consultant Daron Selvig said FMdi

version.com is about 75 percent complete and could be ready for an official launch within a couple of weeks.

The website is meant to be “a living, breathing, growing document on the diversion and the critical things people need to know about it,” Selvig said.

The Diversion Authority gave their nod of approval Thursday, allowing consultants to make the site available to the public once it’s complete.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541