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Posted on: August 8, 2017

Council approves specs for first 3 phases of flood protection plan

The Minot City Council approved bid specifications for the first three phases of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan at its Aug. 7 meeting.

With bids expected to go out in September, preliminary construction could potentially begin this fall.

The first three phases of the Minot flood protection plan include:

-Phase 1. The 4th Avenue project is located between just west of Broadway and just east of Third Street NE. The project includes floodwalls, earthen levees, a large pump station and other features. This phase is designed to protect a portion of northeast Minot.

-Phase 2. The Napa Valley portion of the project begins at the west edge of Minot at the Highway 83 Bypass and ends at 16th Street SW on the north side of the river near the Minot Water Treatment Plant. This portion is mostly earthen levees and includes a road closure to protect portions of southwest Minot.

-Phase 3. The Forest Road project will provide improvements near the Souris Valley Golf Course, and will protect a portion of southwest Minot.

Earlier this year, the City of Minot’s flood protection efforts received a significant funding boost when the North Dakota Legislature approved legislation providing $193 million for flood control projects within the city.

The $193 million will fund the state’s portion of the first four phases of Minot’s flood protection plan through 2025 and the tieback levees needed. The estimated total cost for the initial four phases is $324.8 million; the City of Minot’s share is an estimated $131.8 million. The first four phases, along with the tieback levees, would protect approximately 60 percent of at-risk properties which will be in the new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood plain when the Flood Insurance Rate Maps become active in the city.

As part of the legislation, the Souris River Joint Board and the City of Minot will not be able to request more flood protection funding until the 2025 legislative session for work in the City limits.

In a special meeting on July 21, the Council had opted to study the feasibility and cost of additions and changes to the flood protection project in northeast Minot.

The Council, acting on requests from alderman Josh Wolsky, approved design work on four different amenities to be considered for flood walls and levees. The items approved include:

  • The continuation of a shared-use path west from a flood wall opening east of the Broadway Bridge, connecting with Fourth Avenue Northwest and potentially areas beyond in the future.
  • Adding an opening in the already designed flood wall near the Anne Street Bridge, and reducing the size of openings in the flood wall near the Broadway Bridge.
  • Continue a shared-use path east from the Anne Street Bridge to a point near Third Street Northeast.
  • Improve and replace an existing pathway under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks into the neighborhood near Ben’s Tavern and create an opening in the flood wall near Third Street Northeast.

Wolsky said the additions and changes are about creating connectivity between different areas of the city and improving pedestrian access.

Public Works Director Dan Jonasson expressed concern that some of the changes could be seen as not being flood-related by the State Water Commission. Mayor Chuck Barney, while supporting the overall opportunity for increased access to the wet side of the flood walls in northeast Minot, echoed those concerns, adding that the City should plan to find alternate sources of funding in case it’s necessary.

The flood wall opening near the Anne Street Bridge generated much discussion. The idea of adding an opening had been rejected by the City Council in December 2016, but aldermen Wolsky and Shannon Straight cited support from northeast Minot residents in bringing the idea back to the council.

Jonasson reiterated his concern that every opening added to the flood wall system means more time necessary to install closure fixtures in the event of an impending flood.

Alderman Lisa Olson said she walked the Anne Street Bridge for the first time in preparing for the Council meeting. She walked only halfway across the bridge, she said, noting that many spots on the bridge don’t appear to be safe. Jonasson said the bridge is structurally safe, but there are concerns with the condition of the boards that make up the deck. If the City were to make major repairs, an easement from Burlington Northern Santa Fe would be required since the bridge crosses over railroad property. There’s no guarantee BNSF would grant such an easement.

Wolsky pointed out that whether the Anne Street Bridge continues to exist or not is a separate issue from the opening in the flood wall. Even if the bridge someday is removed, an opening at that location would provide convenient access to the multi-use path, and offer a measure of security for someone using the path.

Ultimately, the Council voted 5-2 in favor of adding an opening to the flood wall near the Anne Street Bridge, with Barney and Olson casting the two “no” votes.

The Council also approved a resolution of support for the Magic City Waterway concept, which was meant to show the city’s desire to restore flow through the current dead loops.

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