FARGO – There seems to be no affordable fix for the recurring flooding on Elm Street, a low-lying minor arterial in the city’s north end, according to a city staff report.
Moving the road away from the Red River would cost more than $7.2 million, while raising the road above flood level would cost
$25 million, staff estimated.
Improving signage to help drivers find detours faster would cost about $440,000.
City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, a northside resident who urged staff to find a solution to the flooding, said Friday that the city will eventually have to do something. He agreed, though, that making the detour route more efficient was a good first step.
The City Commission is scheduled to discuss the report at 5 p.m. Monday.
A section of Elm Street, which dips down near the El Zagal Golf Course, has been closed 603 days between 2004 and this year because of flooding.
City Engineer April Walker said city staff doesn’t think the cost and complications of eliminating flooding is worth it.
Her report cites a 2013 traffic count by the F-M Metropolitan Council of Governments that shows an average of 3,400 vehicles traversing the El Zagal section of Elm Street each day. It’s the least busy of the north side’s north-south arterials. Broadway, the next most busy, had 6,350 vehicles each day at the same latitude as El Zagal.
MetroCOG projections show little growth in traffic near the golf course from now until at least 2040.
While raising Elm Street by filling the ground there with gravel and dirt could be the cheapest option, city staff didn’t explore that option because the fill would affect the flow of the river and wouldn’t be allowed under floodplain laws, Walker said. It’s also not clear if the soil there can support the weight of the fill without triggering a landslide.
That leaves two options.
The city could move the street 450 feet west to an area considered to be stable, but it would take up such a big chunk of the nine-hole golf course that it may force the course to close, Walker said.
Moving the street a shorter distance and leaving more room for golf might be possible if the soil is stable enough, she said.
Piepkorn said he wants staff to find out if the road can be moved without forcing El Zagal to close.
Alternatively, the city could build a causeway over the dip that would cost more.
Walker said the causeway would be similar to the 12th Avenue North viaduct over the railroad tracks southwest of North Dakota State University.
The major problem with both options is they would require modifications to the dikes in that part of the city, which would slow down the process of removing homes there from the floodplain, Walker said.
About 100 homes in the area would no longer have to buy flood insurance once they are certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as being protected.