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Published June 09 2012

Daum: Infrastructure will need to be raised to accommodate diversion

Two major roadways and a railroad line will have to be raised to accommodate the proposed $1.78 billion Red River diversion project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to raise several miles of Interstate 29 in North Dakota, U.S. Highway 75 in Minnesota and the BNSF Railway through the southern portion of the project.

Corps Project Manager Aaron Snyder said the infrastructure needs to be raised so traffic can be maintained while water is temporarily stored south of the diversion channel during times of high flood.

The price tag to raise the roadways and the railroad is estimated at

$64.2 million, Snyder said.

Here’s how each piece of infrastructure will be affected:

• I-29: About four miles of both the southbound and northbound lanes of I-29 will have to be raised 7.3 feet through the staging area south of the channel.

In one area, the interstate will be raised 14.1 feet.

That’s to accommodate a new bridge needed over the levee at the north end of the staging area, as well as other features at the inlet of the project.

The I-29 interchange with Cass County Road 18 will have to be raised slightly and rebuilt as part of the construction work.

• Cass County Highway 81 will get a new bridge to span the diversion levee, which will raise the road by 14.8 feet in that area.

The roadway itself will not be raised in the staging area, Snyder said.

Cass County Highway 81 is a major north-south thoroughfare that provides access to Oxbow, Hickson and the Bakke Addition – three communities south of Fargo that will likely be displaced by the proposed water storage area.

• U.S. Highway 75: In Minnesota, this major north-south roadway will be raised by about 9 feet. The affected area spans about three miles through southern Clay County.

• BNSF railway: Two miles of the line will be raised by 1 foot in the staging area.

Construction of these infrastructure projects will depend on congressional authorization and funding for the project, which could happen as early as later this year but is more likely in 2013.

If funding clears Congress, Snyder said the corps aims to construct the new bridges and road raises before doing any work on the southern channel and tieback levee. That way, traffic can be maintained.

Snyder said all of this work would have to be done before the diversion project goes into operation, which would happen in 2021 at the earliest.


Join the “Diversion Discussion” at www.diversiondiscussion.areavoices.com.

Have a question about the proposed Red River diversion, or want to recommend a topic you’d like to see addressed in an upcoming column?

Send an e-mail to Forum reporter Kristen Daum at kdaum@forumcomm.com (Subject: Diversion Discussion) or write to Kristen Daum c/o The Forum,

P.O. Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.