There are a series of federal funding measures to help the Devils Lake community mitigate flooding. Senator John Hoeven outlined the inclusion of more than $550 million in statewide transportation funding, a grant to help raise the Amtrak line near Devils Lake, as well as conservation program funding to assist farmers with inundated lands that will help. Hoeven also reviewed efforts to secure reliable air service to the Devils Lake region.
- Federal Road Funding. North Dakota will receive a total of more than $550 million in federal transportation funding to help meet the challenges of statewide flood recovery and energy development. This funding includes a record $317 million in federal emergency relief program transportation funding to assist communities throughout the state with flood impacted roads. Included in the funding is more than $100 million for the Devils Lake Basin.
- Amtrak Service. Hoeven worked to secure a $ 10 million TIGER III grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation this month to help upgrade the rail line near Devils Lake, which is critical to regional commerce. The federal resources are in addition to other funding the congressional delegation worked to secure from Amtrak and Burlington Northern to cover the cost, and the delegation is continuing to work with the state and other partners to raise full funds for the estimated $97.4 million project. Rising flood waters in the Devils Lake basin have threatened the rail lines and bridges near Churchs Ferry, which is part of the Empire Builder transcontinental line.
- Water Bank Program. Devils Lake and Stump Lake basin farmers with flooded farmland could benefit from Water Bank, a conservation program Hoeven worked to fund in the FY 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill, which passed in November. The program was appropriated $7.5 million, and will enable producers and landowners to enter into ten-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands in return for annual payments.
- Local Air Service. After an interruption in air service to Devils Lake Regional Airport in early December, Hoeven worked with Delta, Great Lakes Airlines, and local and federal officials to find a solution to ensure regular flights. The leaders agreed on a plan for Great Lakes Airlines to begin to serve the city. Great Lakes began flying from Devils Lake to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Saturday, and will ramp up to three flights daily.
Local officials joining the senator included Mayor Dick Johnson, Ramsey County Commission Chairman Bill Mertens, County Commissioner Joe Belford, City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard, Water Board Manager Jeff Frith, City Director of Economic Development Chris Schilken, and Airport Manager John Nord. The tour began at Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten and ended at Devils Lake Regional Airport.
“This help for flood-relief projects, plus the renewed air service, are very important for the people of the lake region. We will continue to work to see these projects sustained and permanent flood mitigation solutions achieved,” Hoeven said.
Source: Office of Senator Hoeven