State and local leaders are commemorating the start of a $2.1 billion diversion channel around Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota.

State and local leaders are commemorating the start of a $2.1 billion diversion channel around Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday at the site of a planned inlet structure considered to be the first phase of the project. The Army Corps of Engineers has begun stabilizing the ground in advance of construction that's likely to begin later this year.

The event drew a couple dozen protesters who want a cheaper project that won't flood land south of the metropolitan area. They say construction should not start until a judge decides on a lawsuit and supporters obtain a permit from Minnesota.

Diversion opponent Nathan Berseth says the decision to go ahead with the project is "an insult to the state of Minnesota and the judicial system."