News Flash

City of Minot News Flash

Posted on: December 24, 2020

Federal spending bill includes good news for Minot

The City of Minot received a couple of early Christmas presents recently, with news that a key component of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Control Project received federal authorization and the deadline for Minot’s National Disaster Resilience program was extended by one year.

Both items were included in a massive federal spending bill passed by Congress.

While City of Minot Public Works Director Dan Jonasson and the City’s partners on the Souris River Joint Board are excited by the news, they know there is a lot of work ahead. Jonasson said there are three major steps to moving forward with the Maple Diversion project.

Step 1: Signing the Chief’s report for comprehensive flood control in the Souris River Valley, which occurred in April 2019 when U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite signed the report while visiting Minot.

Step 2: Receive federal authorization for the project, which happened this week, when the project was included in the Water Resource Development Act bill.

Step 3: Secure a federal funding source and have funding appropriated.

“All three steps are difficult,” Jonasson said. “Getting it authorized is hard because there have been years where a WRDA bill hasn’t been passed. To have it authorized is a giant step in the process. Now, finding federal funding is our final hurdle.”

Jonasson said a best-case scenario would have construction starting by 2022 or 2023 on what will likely be a three-year construction project. The project has an estimated price tag of $90 million, with the potential for 65 percent coming from federal sources. The remaining 35 percent would be split evenly between the state of North Dakota and local sources.

“We have identified state funding through state legislation and will continue to keep that funding included in this next legislative session. Local funding will come from sales tax or bonds sales identified for the Maple Diversion project. This opens up the ability to work with the USACE on finding funding alternatives or a possible memorandum of understanding with the Corps office in St. Paul, where we could potentially start work and they would reimburse us,” Jonasson said.

Jonasson said now that the project is authorized, the City and its partners will continue to work with the USACE office in St. Paul to explore federal options that could be used to finish the design work, which he estimated is at 40 percent to 50 percent complete. To this point, state and local funding has paid for design work.

The City and SRJB are also in steady contact with offices of North Dakota’s congressional delegation, and are working with CP Rail, BNSF, and Amtrak, among others on the project.

“We’re looking at every possibility and under every stone for funding to keep the project moving forward,” Jonasson said.

John Zakian, Minot’s resilience program manager, was also happy with the portion of the federal spending bill that extended the deadline to utilize funding through Minot’s National Disaster Resilience Program.

The original deadline to have the $74.3 million Minot that was awarded in 2016 spent was Sept. 30, 2022. The new deadline is Sept. 30, 2023.

“The concern I had was that if we didn’t get an extension, we could have utilized all of the funds by the 2022 deadline, but we have some complex projects and there is always the potential for surprises,” Zakian said. “All of our projects are on schedule, but any delays could have pushed us up against that 2022 deadline. The one-year extension gives us a buffer.”

Minot is moving forward with several major NDR projects, including relocating City Hall to a downtown building, acquisitions for flood control, and creating a Center for Technical Education with several community partners.

There are also projects under way that will benefit the community’s low-to-moderate income population, including improvements at Milton Young Towers, Blu on Broadway, Park South Phase 2, Souris Heights, and Lutheran Social Services housing that will be built in conjunction with Minot’s first family homeless shelter. Those projects total approximately $20 million, Zakian said.

“All of those projects are on schedule to meet the 2022 deadline, but the extension will certainly help ensure they are all completed on time,” he said.

The members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation have been instrumental in securing both the flood project authorization and the NDR extension, notably Sen. John Hoeven, who sits on the Senate Appropriation Committee.

“He has been a key figure in this discussion,” Zakian said of Hoeven. “His advocacy for our case is one of the primary reasons the one-year extension was granted.”

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