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Floodplain Project to Have Transformational Effect on Flagstaff

Once this project is complete, it will make a huge difference to our town.

Flagstaff City Hall will host the first Flagstaff Senate hearing in 30 years, convening a Feb. 15 hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee chaired by Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. It became. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Water Resources Development Act. Senator Kelly requested testimony from the Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Flagstaff, Navajo County, and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. He said the common elements among the three projects discussed are that they all involve the Army Corps of Engineers and all are in small, rural or underserved communities.

Following the testimony of Col. Andy Baker, Army Corps District Commander, I testified on behalf of the City of Flagstaff regarding flood control projects in Rio de Flag. The city, Colonel Baker and his staff, and BNSF Railway are working closely on this project, which took him 23 years to develop. The main causes of delays are design complexity, contract complexity between partner institutions and organizations, and project funding. A map and project description can be found on the city's website. Rio Defrag Flood Control Project | Official City of Flagstaff Website (

To date, three major project components have been constructed, including a large detention basin in the Clay Wash area, bridge structures in the upstream area, and a large culvert under Butler Avenue. The city is nearing final plans and specifications that will allow the project to go out to bid. It is acquiring real estate to build the project, including property owned by BNSF Railway. City officials are engaged in complex negotiations with the railroad over several construction and maintenance agreements surrounding project approval and ownership. The goal is to put the project out to bid in early 2025 and begin construction by spring 2025.

The city received the last $52 million in federal funding for construction in fiscal year 2020. So far, $84 million in federal funds has been committed to the project, and the city has contributed $22 million to help defray costs. Both Arizona senators have been instrumental in not only funding this project, but making sure it continues to move forward through the Army Corps.

Once this project is complete, it will make a huge difference to our town. First, more than half of the residents and more than 1,500 structures, including Northern Arizona University and City Hall, will be removed from the floodplain. Second, for the first time in many lifetimes, people will be able to make improvements to their homes and businesses on the South Side that they haven't been able to do for decades because of their location in a floodplain. Third, it would eliminate the need for expensive flood insurance for many residents, and finally, it would allow for significant economic development. In short, this project will change our city and the lives of many of its residents. FBN

Becky Daggett, FBN

Becky Daggett is the mayor of Flagstaff.

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