The Diversion Board of Authority unanimously voted to distribute a Request for Proposals (RFP) to four companies interested in building the Diversion Channel portion of the FM Area Diversion Project.
The RFP document includes a specific outline of services a contractor would be required to complete as part of the Public-Private Partnership (P3) agreement. The four companies that received the RFP previously submitted their qualifications to the Diversion Board and were short listed last month. Responses to the RFP must be submitted to the Board in the Fall of 2017.
“This is a huge milestone for the project,” Diversion Board Chair Darrel Vanyo said. “We have a long way to go on the project, but this is one of the first steps we need to get started with construction.”
The four firms that will receive the RFP include:
- Lake Agassiz Partners (Meridiam/Walsh/AECOM)
- Red River Valley Partners (Fluor/Plenary/Ames/Barnard)
- Red River Valley Alliance (Acciona/InfraRed/North American Enterprises/Shikun&Binui)
- Red River Partners (Graham/Parsons/Alberici/BBGI)
The Southern Embankment portion of the FM Area Diversion Project is being constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A construction contract was awarded in November for the inlet structure that serves as the entrance to the Diversion Channel. A groundbreaking is being planned for the spring of 2017.
Press Release: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, awarded a $46,040,475.00 contract
Dec. 6, to Ames Construction, Inc., of Burnsville, Minnesota, to complete the diversion inlet control structure portion of the Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota, Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project.
The contract for the inlet control structure is the first construction contract to be awarded by the federal government for the Fargo-Moorhead Project. The contract includes construction of a concrete control structure with three gates that will regulate flows into the diversion channel and be located southeast of Horace, North Dakota. Permits for construction of this feature were issued by the state of North Dakota.
“This is a very important milestone for the project,” said Col. Sam Calkins, St. Paul District commander. “It marks the start of federal construction and the first major step towards permanent flood risk management for the Fargo-Moorhead area.”
This congressionally authorized project is a 30-mile long diversion channel in North Dakota with upstream staging. The plan includes a 12-mile long southern embankment, 19 highway bridges, four railroad bridges, three gated control structures and two aqueduct structures.
The Corps is working in partnership on this project with the cities of Fargo and Moorhead and the Metro Diversion Authority. This project provides flood risk reduction for more than 230,000 people and 70 square miles of infrastructure in the communities of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Horace and Harwood.
A ground breaking ceremony is being planned for spring of 2017.
The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2015 $100 million budget, nearly 1,600 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $155 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.
For more information about the Inlet Structure, see this informational sheet.
MNDNR EIS Does Not Identify Any Additional Reasonable Alternatives to Diversion Project
The Diversion Authority is ready to move to the next stage of building permanent flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead area following the release by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the FM Area Diversion Project.
The summary document of the Final EIS says that the DNR did not identify any additional reasonable alternatives to the Diversion Project. “Commenters to the Minnesota DNR’s alternative screening of the Project attempted to provide solutions to our flooding problem other than the Diversion, but it is important to note that after studying each of these proposed alternatives, the DNR determined that none of them were reasonable,” said Darrell Vanyo, Chairman of the Flood Diversion Board of Authority. “We have always desired input and as many perspectives as possible on how to build the flood protection we need and deserve, but we are gratified to know that after many independent studies, a Diversion Project remains the only project which will provide 100-year flood protection for Fargo and Moorhead, and a chance at 500 year protection with emergency measures.”
The Final EIS describes the potential environmental and social effects of a flood diversion project proposed in the Fargo-Moorhead area. As described by the DNR, the Final EIS is not a decisional document, but rather independently evaluates and discloses potential project impacts and proposed mitigations for those impacts.
“We are grateful for the independent analysis of the Diversion Project, and we are happy to receive confirmation that we are on the right path which will provide the permanent flood protection that the Fargo-Moorhead area needs and deserves,” said Tim Mahoney, Mayor of Fargo. “That being said, we have worked closely with the DNR to identify in its EIS some outstanding issues that we know need to be addressed, and we are working on that.”
The Final EIS will be available for a ten-day public comment period beginning on May 16, 2016 and ending on May 31, 2016. Following the public comment period and a decision on the determination of adequacy of the Final EIS, the DNR will transition into its permitting phase. The DNR received the dam safety and work in public waters permit application for the Diversion Project on Feb. 18, 2016. Multiple permit applications are expected as there is no single permit that would authorize the Project as a whole. Each permit authorizes specific activities and each has its own applicable rules and processes.
The Final EIS is posted on the MNDNR’s website at:http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/fm_flood_risk/index.html
Cost Estimate Updated for FM Area Diversion Project
The cost estimate for the FM Area Diversion Project, which will offer permanent protection to the Fargo-Moorhead area from serious flooding, has been updated to approximately $2.1 billion. >
The increase from the estimate of $1.8 billion issued in 2011 is based on rising construction costs due to inflation, scope increases related to in-town levees, and the increases in acquisition costs. Additional North Dakota permitting requirements have also added considerable expense. Assuming a three percent inflation rate, the cost for the Diversion could continue to increase approximately $60 million per year if construction does not begin as scheduled.
“The updated cost estimate for the Diversion Project is just one key reason why we must forge ahead to build the Project,” said Darrell Vanyo, Chairman of the Flood Diversion Board of Authority. “Seven years ago, almost to the day, the region experienced the highest flooding level in our history. We have made improvements since then, but we are still at risk of flooding, and we need this Project. Also, FEMA has plans to remap the area’s 100-year floodplain within the next five years. With 19,400 homes in Fargo and 800 homes in Moorhead at risk of being placed in the floodplain, those homeowners may have to pay flood insurance premiums every year that we’ve seen range from 2,000-4,000 or more per home.”
PPA Agreement Pending
A Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the Corps of Engineers must be signed by August 31 for the Diversion Project to keep its federal “new start” status, which the Diversion Authority worked hard to achieve with the help of the federal delegation. Under federal and state law, the Project requires a signed PPA for construction to begin. “Only six new starts were awarded in the U.S. this year and only eleven in the last six years. I think that speaks volumes about the quality of the research and design work conducted on the Diversion Project,” said Tim Mahoney, Mayor of Fargo. “This is the right project, and shovels need to start turning dirt soon.”
Construction Scheduled for Fall 2016
Corps-led construction on the Diversion Project is slated to begin in the fall; however, in order to secure the “new start” designation and federal funding commitment, the federal funding commitment was reduced by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by $400 million, from $850 million to $450 million. With the release of the updated cost estimate, a project-specific financial plan is being completed, which will evaluate several options to cover costs through construction, long-term debt repayments, and operating costs.
The Diversion Authority continues to look for efficiencies and is planning to hold an additional “Value Engineering” workshop to explore where there may be cost-saving opportunities. Cost saving opportunities could involve tweaking preliminary designs of certain project features, while still maintaining the overall functionality of the federally authorized Project.
Efficient Delivery Model
Approved unanimously on September 2, 2015, a Split Delivery model would deliver the majority of the Diversion Project’s features through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) project, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to use traditional design-bid-build method. The P3 model will deliver the best value for the public’s money, provide performance guarantees and long-term warranties that otherwise would not be available, promote delivery innovation, and shorten the schedule to achieve flood risk reduction sooner than could be achieved otherwise.
Corps of Engineers Work Plan Includes Funding to Begin Construction on FM Area Diversion Project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selected the FM Area Diversion Project as one of six projects that will begin construction in Fiscal Year 2016. The Corps’ work plan includes $5 million Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year to get the project started, and is contingent on addressing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ process of completing an environmental review of the project.
The North Dakota and Minnesota Congressional delegations have been working over the past several years to secure federal funding, and their help has been critical.
Initially, the Corps’ dollars will be used for construction on the Diversion’s inlet structure southeast of Horace, ND.
The Corps of Engineers has already studied the feasibility of the Diversion Project. Getting on the Corps’ list of projects that will begin construction makes the Diversion Project eligible for funding in the future.
Congressional Delegation Works with Diversion Authority on Next Steps
Members and staff of the North Dakota and Minnesota Congressional delegations are working with the Diversion Authority on the next steps that need to be taken to secure permanent flood protection for Fargo and Moorhead in the form of the FM Area Diversion Project.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator John Hoeven wrote and secured language in a federal omnibus funding bill passed in December 2015 authorizing and funding new construction activity that will help to advance flood protection in the Red River Valley. The legislation includes nearly $690 million more than the Army Corps of Engineer’s proposed budget for construction and directs the Corps to utilize projects organized as public-private partnerships (P3), like the Diversion Project. A coordinated P3 Split Delivery plan is in place for the Diversion Project, and ready to execute.
All four Senators from North Dakota and Minnesota, and the two local Congressmen, voted in favor of the bill.