FARGO - Despite a federal judge's order earlier in the month to pause work on the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion, workers are still building parts of the Oxbow ring dike linked to the $2.2 billion project, Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority officials were told Thursday, Sept. 28.
The judge in April lifted an earlier injunction after all parties agreed to it and authority lawyers confirmed Thursday all parties agreed that continuing the work in Oxbow wouldn't violate the most recent injunction, authority attorney John Shockley told officials.
The ring dike would protect the town and neighboring communities of Hickson and Bakke from flooding, including that caused by a dam controlling flow into the diversion channel by flooding upstream areas. Judge John R. Tunheim stopped work after Minnesota regulators complained the dam lacked a permit from them.
The work that's still apparently allowed is a northeastern section of the ring dike that completes the line of protection along the Red River.
Thursday was the first full meeting of the Diversion Authority since the latest injunction.
Authority members also talked about:
• Asking the judge to allow work on temporary road connecting Cass County Roads 16 and 17 south of Horace. This is the site of excavation for an inlet structure to the dam that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started and there's now 20-foot-deep hole in County 17, said County Engineer Jason Benson. Because work on the dam has halted, authority officials want to build a temporary gravel road to avoid the long detour for the winter. Area residents want their old road back, but rushing to fill such a deep hole in the short time between now and the deep freeze means it's hard to ensure the road will remain stable.
• Hiring a new executive director for the Diversion Authority and trying to keep industry partners seeking a contract to build the diversion channel on board for a few more months in hopes the lawsuit will be resolved. The lawsuit tying up the project focuses on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' refusal to grant a dam permit, but governors from both states are in discussions that could lead to a compromise.