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Downtown Fargo Considering New Flood Wall and Levee - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Downtown Fargo Considering New Flood Wall and Levee

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Fargo city officials are talking over a proposal to reroute parts of Second Street North and possibly build a new levee near Mickelson Field.

The Second Street proposal would actually move Second Street a bit west, plugging it right between First and Fifth Avenue North. That would allow engineers to build a flood wall between Second Street and the Red River. But it won't happen overnight, and it won't be cheap.

The project is estimated to cost about 24 million dollars. The city would have to buy out a downtown hotel, a vacant building, and rework the layout of the Civic parking lot. City engineer April Walker says it's all in an effort to quit throwing money into a ongoing problem; "since 2009 we've built approximately 13 miles of levees and flood walls and that's been about 40 million dollars of work."

For years Second Street North has been ground zero for where the flooding Red River collides with downtown Fargo in the spring. The proposed new flood walls and levee would reroute traffic a couple of blocks to make room for the structures.

Walker explains how the new layout could change the look downtown, "so the concept we are proposing moves Second Street towards City Hall or Third Street. It relocates and then puts a flood wall between the street right of way, and the river. Providing flood protection for the street too."

While the concept has a ways to go yet, initial plans would keep intact a portion of the road many commuters would have a hard time losing. Walker says the current plan is to continue avoiding the train tracks, "we wanna continue to use the underpass under the railroads. So in order to do that we have to use this area to realign the road to match back in."

Keep in mind, this proposal is at it's beginnings. "Is the project needed down here? Absolutely. Do we think this is a feasible concept? Absolutely. Is this the final project? No, we have a long way to go." Says Walker.

The city should know sometime in March whether a grant is approved. The Federal Government could pick up as much as 75% of the cost for the new levee and flood wall. As far as Michelson Field, initial plans call for the removal of a couple of diamonds closest to the river for the addition of a permanent dike.

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