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Published March 30, 2011, 08:31 AM

Recommended diversion plan sends shock waves through Oxbow and Hickson

Included in the Diversion plan were the Army Corps final cost estimates, so how much did they go up? After nearly eliminating all downstream impacts from last May's diversion plan, the cost has jumped more than half-a-billion dollars. Despite the 1.7 billion dollar price tag many city and county leaders believe the time to move forward is here.

Oxbow, ND (WDAY TV) - After three years of planning and many changes along the way, today the Army Corp of Engineers laid out its recommended diversion plan and it's sending shockwaves through Oxbow and Hickson. The entire area could be bought out.

Despite their efforts, the city of Oxbow and others in Cass County didn't receive an endorsement from the Corp of Engineers to move the alignment south. The Army Corp says it would cost 35 million more dollars to move the project south of Oxbow.

Currently it’s endorsing the project that would make Oxbow part of the staging area. However, the Army Corp says changes can be considered during the design phase.

JIM NYHOFF - Oxbow Mayor: “No real surprise. We are just looking for some more concrete answers to the issues that are presented and how we move forward.”

Included in the Diversion plan were the Army Corps final cost estimates, so how much did they go up?

After nearly eliminating all downstream impacts from last May's diversion plan, the cost has jumped more than half-a-billion dollars. Despite the 1.7 billion dollar price tag many city and county leaders believe the time to move forward is here.

MAYOR MARK VOXLAND – Moorhead: “My staff, I know Fargo's staff is real tired of blowing the first few months of every year, just getting ready for a flood fight.”

After looking at levees, water storage, and a Minnesota side diversion, the Corp is confident the North Dakota alignment plan is the right project.

TERRY WILLIAMS - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: “The recommendation to keep on schedule is to maintain this LPP plan with upstream staging and storage as the recommended plan.”

In order to eliminate downstream impacts, a storage and staging area in southern Clay County will be built. This will threaten communities like Hickson, Oxbow, and Comstock. However the Corp says buyouts are warranted in these areas because in a 100 year flood, they'd be under three feet of water.

Local engineers are also endorsing the Diversion plan, but want to continue looking at the possibility of aligning the diversion south of oxbow. For now, the Corp needs leaders to act quickly.

AARON SNYDER - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: “We need to have the design agreement signed and in place for that, and one of the deadlines we put is requesting a letter for 50-50 cost share by April 11th.”

Now, the Corp will be holding two public meetings. The first one is tonight at 7 at Kindred High School. We'll be there and have a live report at ten. There is also one tomorrow at 7:30 at West Fargo High School.

The city of Fargo is delaying its sandbag deployment to neighborhoods. It was scheduled to start tomorrow, but because of weather tomorrow and this weekend, it will likely be pushed back. The city will decide tomorrow morning when it will start.

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