A flood protection project designed to shield Fargo and Moorhead from Red River flooding looks like it will be getting more federal funding than originally expected.
The Fargo-Moorhead Metro Diversion Project is now expected to receive $7.4 million in federal funding during the 2013 fiscal year. The Office of Management and Budget told North Dakota's congressional delegation it was likely to approve the new figure later this year. That's about 60 percent more than the $4.5 million that had been allocated for the project.
The increase in funding would not affect the 2014 federal budget for the project. When President Barack Obama released his 2014 budget proposal last week it did not include any funding for the project.
North Dakota's senators welcomed the additional funding for the 2013 fiscal year, while still expressing disappointment that no money was included for the project in Obama's budget for next year.
"This additional funding is welcome news and provides momentum for us to continue the push to provide long-term flood protection," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat.
Heitkamp said she was "disappointed" by Obama's 2014 budget and planned to continue to press for funding for the project.
Her Republican colleague, Sen. John Hoeven, said in an interview the additional funding was good news.
"We were pushing, obviously, for as much as we could get," he said.
Hoeven said he'd recently met with Obama's nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, and told her that the Obama Administration should reconsider its decision to not allocate funds in 2014.
"I went through with her why it's been in there before, why it needs to be in there in the future," he said. "I said, 'it just makes sense because it's the most effective way.'"
Hoeven said Burwell, whose appointment awaits Senate confirmation, had a "positive" response.
Earlier this week, Fargo officials said they would resume sandbag-filling operations in anticipation of spring flooding. The city had been preparing for a flood peak of 38 feet, but now projects that the Red River may crest closer to 41 feet — which would be the largest crest in the city's history.