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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 12-09Contact: Doug Hecox
Jonathan Mueller
Monday, May 4, 2009Tel.: (202) 366-0660

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Green Lights $42 Million Road Improvements at Devils Lake, North Dakota

WASHINGTON - The federal government approved a $42 million road improvement plan today to help North Dakota and the Spirit Lake Nation repair roads threatened by flooding near Devils Lake, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

"We owe it to the people of North Dakota and the Spirit Nation to make sure they can get to their homes, work and school safely," said Secretary LaHood. These funds will help get the community on the road to recovery."

The funds supplement $26 million in emergency relief issued to the state earlier this year. With the funding, the state plans to raise and reinforce key roads and levees in the Devils Lake area by as much as 5 feet.

Part of the Red River Basin which spans 28 million acres of land and water in Canada and the north-central United States, Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. Due to heavy rains and snow over the last 16 years, the lake has quadrupled in size and risen more than 25 feet, inundating hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. In 2003, it forced the relocation of Churchs Ferry, N.D.

Since the 1960s, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Devils Lake has risen nearly 50 feet, well surpassing lake levels recorded back in the 1870s. It is expected to rise another 5 to 10 feet over the next decade, threatening area roads and levees.

Secretary LaHood added that the U.S. Department of Transportation would keep working with state officials, and could make more resources available if conditions warrant.

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