COWI’s preliminary design work is underway for the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion channel project in Fargo, North Dakota, as financial close for the project has been reached. Initial program plans and designs will soon be submitted, and staff will co-locate to Fargo with the construction and owner team in February.

This work ties in with COWI’s green transition aspiration. Warming temperatures, snow melts and increased rainfall are resulting in a high frequency of flooding, disrupting lives and businesses in the area.

Last year, the Red River Valley Alliance, which consists of ACCIONA, Shikun & Binui USA, and North American Construction Group, named COWI North America, along with Hatch, as the design leads for the channel portion of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion. This is the first public-private partnership (P3) floodwater diversion project in North America.

The diversion channel and associated infrastructure (DCAI) project is the centerpiece of the FargoMoorhead Area Diversion. This monumental climate-mitigation infrastructure project includes a 30- mile diversion channel to divert floodwaters of the Red River away from the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo metro area and protect it from the recurrent floods. The Red River Valley Alliance is responsible for the DCAI, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designing and building three control structures, the southern embankment and floodwalls.

COWI and Hatch are leading the final design of the project and will be responsible for all the major design aspects. In addition to the 30-mile channel, the project involves a diversion outlet, a berm spanning the length of the channel, two pairs of interstate bridges, nine county road bridges, three local road bridges, three rail bridges, two aqueducts, 12 drain inlets, two river flow directing structures, and an administration complex. Environmental impact mitigation, access and security features are also included.

Thomas Dahlgren, President, COWI North America, said: “COWI is very excited to be a part of this ground-breaking comprehensive flood protection project, the first of its kind undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This initiative will strengthen communities, establish a path forward for future public-private partnership projects, and provide a platform for growth and opportunities to come.”

John Chapman, Vice President and Market Director leading the pursuit for COWI North America, said: “The passing of Biden’s infrastructure bill, which includes $47 billion to help communities prepare for the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, is a much-needed acknowledgement of the importance of resilience projects like the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion. The project will allow the consortium to bring global experience in designing and building climate resilient infrastructure to a landmark U.S. project that aims to prevent billions of dollars in losses caused by flooding.”

“This announcement concludes five years of intense team collaboration to propose a safe and optimized concept to the recurrent flood challenges for the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community,” shared John Bianchini, Hatch’s CEO and Chairman. “We are proud to be part of the team and to bring our experience in developing this crucial climate-mitigation infrastructure project.”

The FM Area Diversion grew out of studies following the historic Red River flood of 1997 in Grand Forks, which caused an estimated $3.5 billion in damages. The diversion channel is a landmark climate change mitigation project, intended to address major floods. Once completed, it will protect more than 235,000 people.

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