North Mankato Officials say they are waiting to see how everything shakes out before determining how much money it will contribute to make repairs to the Minnesota River flood control system near Highway 169.
The flawed portion of the levee system lies within the boundaries of Mankato and earlier this week the City Council approved contributing 1.6-million dollars to the 2.8-million dollar project. MnDOT will pay the remaining amount and says it is committed to working with both cities to make the levee permanent this summer.
North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen says there are many pieces in play and they are waiting to see how bids for the project come back.
“We are limited on how we can go ahead about paying for things in another jurisdiction though, because our local option sales tax was not authorized towards the levy and to take property taxes and put it in another jurisdiction is quite difficult. There’s a lot of rules around how property taxes can be spent. So, those are the things that we are looking at. We’re gonna look at what we have available and what we can do to help. We want to be good neighbors.”
In 2017, FEMA identified flaws in the flood control system and determined the area needs to be raised. If the problem isn’t corrected, portions of Mankato and North Mankato will be put in a flood plain. Meaning homeowners and bussiness would be required to purchase flood insurance.
“The problem started when the Corps of Engineers decided not to finish the levee the way they were suppose to. They left phase four out of it, they thought it was too expensive at the time. Now twenty years later, forty years later, there is a hole in that system because they didn’t do it at the time and now we’re gonna have to deal with it. Now that was a unilateral decision made by Corps of Engineers, so is this a Federal problem, is a state problem with the state highway there, is it a local problem? Obviously we need to solve the problem.”
Officials are speeding up the process to make the fixes before FEMA publishes new flood plain maps in the fall of 2019.
“We’re talking about raising the road about ten inches, is what it really needs to be. They’re looking at doing about a foot and a half to two feet, because that’s the 300 year flood rather then a 100 year flood, which is required. But, you’ve gotta billion dollar flood control system and if you leave a hole in it then you undermine the entire system for both sides of the river. So, what’s the point of that.”
The last major flood event was in 1993, which required a closure of Highway 169.