FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion will cost more than $2.1 billion, a Diversion Authority official said Monday, March 28.
Darrell Vanyo, who chairs the authority board, said a formal presentation will be made Thursday, March 31, but even then the financial forecast will not be complete for some time, meaning the authority won't know exactly what its share of the project is.
The last time anyone estimated the the cost of the massive flood-protection project was in 2011 when it was priced at $1.8 billion, which is about $1.9 billion in today's dollars. That's using the consumer price index; construction costs have accelerated faster, according to several industry indexes.
The longstanding assumption Diversion Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials have made is the project would be split into two: the diversion channel and the dam that will reduce the flow of the Red River through the channel.
The corps would pay for the dam using federal funds and the authority would pay for the channel with state and local tax dollars but they'd use a more efficient financing method called public-private partnership, or P3.
Vanyo said that's a rough breakdown of the cost share. If the dam were to cost more than the federal government is willing to pay, then the authority would have to make up the difference.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney had indicated that if more money is needed, the city would probably ask voters to extend the life of the sales tax that's now dedicated to the diversion project.
The cost estimate coming out Thursday will be only the first of two cost estimates, according to Rocky Schneider, an engineering consultant with the city. The Diversion Authority's project manager, CH2M Hil,l is providing the first estimate, assuming there will be some savings from P3, which allows immediate funding and allows projects to be done faster, reducing costs.
The corps will provide another estimate later, making the assumption that the entire project will wait for federal funds, which take much longer and raises costs.
Another funding question that won't soon be answered is if the state of Minnesota will pay for the share it had indicated it would pay early on in the project since Moorhead would benefit. In recent years, the state has taken an ambivalent stance.