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Published February 25, 2013, 09:07 PM

F-M flood diversion project could be greatly affected by new state amendments

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Lawmakers slid several amendments in a state bill that helps fund the F-M diversion project and some local leaders say they have potential to kill the project.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Lawmakers slid several amendments in a state bill that helps fund the F-M diversion project and some local leaders say they have potential to kill the project.

What may be even more shocking; it's spear headed by a state representative out of Fargo, House Majority Leader Al Carlson.

What's most worrysome to local leaders: How are congressional delegates from halfway across the country going to vote on federal funding if Fargo's own state leaders aren't backing the project?

Keith Berndt, Cass County Administrator: "The federal government that process has gone at a record pace for a federal project. We've gone step-by-step methodically with the corps but to now have our own legislators take a descending position absolutely is terrible for the project."

It's a project that Fargo and Cass County voters approved a sales tax to pay for. Countless experts from the Corps of Engineers, consultants locally and nationally, all say this is the best plan. And elected boards from both sides of the river support it.

Berndt: "For all of this work to have one individual who thinks he has a better idea is just disheartening."

Here are the major amendments. The state caps its funding at $325 million. A week ago local leaders expected it to rise to $450 million in the next two bienniums.

The money can't be used to buyout homes and it can't be used on the diversion project.

Representative Al Carlson says the state is not going to lend money for a project that he believes won't get the $800 or $900 million in federal funding.

Carlson: "There's no reason to run around with your hair on fire and say we might as well call off the dogs and we're never going to do it. If they go ahead and they get the approval we're going to be meeting again and we'll decide what are level of participation is going to be when we know exactly what the costs are and who's going to pay them."

Mayor Dennis Walaker responded by saying every stop or delay in the action just increases the price of the project and decreases the possibility, and local leaders say Representative Carlson's amendments could slap a giant roadblock on the project.

State legislators told said this bill with the amendments will pass on the house floor. The only way it wouldn't is if Al Carlson takes them off himself because other republicans aren't going to battle their party's leader.

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