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"We got it all" - FM Diversion receives full funding from federal government

Senator John Hoeven's Office

The project is the first in the country to be funded by the "P3" model of public-private partnerships.

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project is now fully funded, and Cass County Commission Chairman Chad Peterson says he could hardly believe the news.

Peterson serves on the FM Diversion Authority. He says when Senator John Hoeven called to tell him about it, he was blown away.

"Senator Hoeven said, 'Chad, what do you think the number is?' And I said, 'Sir, I'm hopeful that it's in excess of a hundred million, but I'll take whatever you've got. It's far more than I expect, but I'm hopeful.' And he said, 'We've got it all.' I said, 'We got $180 million? I can't hardly believe it!' And he said, 'No, Chad. We got it ALL.' I said, 'Is there any way they can take it back?!"

The Diversion is the first Army Corps of Engineers project to utilize a public-private partnership. The $750 million diversion has been funded in part by state and local dollars, and had been waiting for federal approval. In all, $437 million has been awarded for the project. Hoeven says the diversion will serve as a model for future major public works projects.

"It's the first one in the country - multi-state, $3.2 billion. Up til now, we've been talking about how, oh, we're going to be that project. Now, we are the project. We got it all - we've got everything. Local, state, federal, all the authorizations, all the funding. It's now going to happen."

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar says she believes the bi-partisan nature of the project helped make it an attractive approval for members of Congress.

"I think part of this, and the reason through different administrations - Democratic and Republican - we have consistently been able to get this funding step by step by step, is that John and I have done this together. I think that's a major piece of this. And also, that bi-partisan infrastructure bill that we both supported I think, also, is part of the reason and THE reason that we're going to be able to complete this federal funding commitment."

The diversion is also the first Army Corps project to utilize a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Loan. The fixed interest rate is expected to save nearly $500 million over the life of the loan.