Red River in Greater Grand Forks area declines once again, as Point Bridge reopens
The Red River crested late Monday into early Tuesday at 45.42 feet after rising due to rain over the past weekend
GRAND FORKS – As northern parts of the region face flooding with rivers continuing to rise, the Red River in the Greater Grand Forks area has crested once again and is now on the decline.
The river crested late Monday into early Tuesday at 45.42 feet, a little under what the National Weather Service projected the river to crest at, and is still on the decline sitting at 44.58 feet as of Wednesday afternoon. The river is expected to get close to being within minor flood stage by early next week.
After rapidly rising from snow melt and rain during the weekend of April 23, the Red River crested last week at just under 46 feet. Though the river was starting to decline, rain from this past weekend caused the levels to rise again.
Even while water levels rose twice within the span of a week, the levee and floodwalls in place in Grand Forks and East Grand forks have kept both cities protected from flooding from the river.
In Grand Forks, the English Coulee diversion channel also helped alleviate flooding. Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said the diversion channel protects the city as water is diverted when water levels in English Coulee rise.
“That diversion basically takes some of the water that would normally go through the English Coulee and diverts it around the city,” Feland said. “It also serves a good function of regular overland flooding to our west to intercept that water going into the city too.”
At the beginning of last week the English Coulee pump station pumped 133 million gallons of water, which Feland said is a typical amount of water when the Red River rises. The amount of runoff water from the rain received over the weekend of April 23 as well as from this past weekend also contributed to the stations working extra hard.
Despite getting more rain last weekend, Feland said all systems are functioning well in the city.
“From our flood- to our storm- to our wastewater systems, they all ran well over this week and we’re looking forward to things drying out,” he said.
Another measure taken when the river rises is to close the bridges. Both the Point and Sorlie Bridges have been closed for over a week . The Kennedy Bridge has remained open as it’s not impacted until the river gets up to 52 feet.
East Grand Forks City Administrator David Murphy said when the river levels cause the Point and Sorlie to close, the bridges typically stay closed for around a week.
The Point Bridge, along Minnesota Avenue, was reopened on Thursday afternoon.
Murphy said while the cities were planning to reopen the bridges after the river crested last week, the additional rain postponed those plans.
Before the bridges can reopen, they need to be inspected to ensure no damage has been caused from the water pressure or debris.
Murphy said the Point Bridge only needs to get inspected by crews on the East Grand Forks side, which can make the process of reopening simpler.
The Sorlie Bridge is still closed as it will need to be inspected by the North Dakota and Minnesota departments of transportation.
In East Grand Forks, some restaurants have seen a slight impact to business with the Sorlie Bridge being closed.
Nathan Sheppard, a co-owner of the Blue Moose Bar & Grill, said the bridge closure has slowed down business at the restaurant during lunch hour though dinner hasn’t been affected too much.
“It slows down our lunch business quite a bit,” Sheppard said. “Just because people who work downtown can’t scoot over the bridge, get a bite to eat and head back.”
Jane Moss, the owner of the Boardwalk Bar & Grill, said that business has also been impacted around lunch time.
“It’s mostly affecting our lunch hour, the evenings not quite as much,” Moss said.
Sherry Aarnes, the owner of Mike’s Pizza & Pub, said the Sorlie Bridge closure has had a slight impact on in-dining business, though delivery driver's are busier.
"We're really lucky cause we offer full delivery so it makes our delivery driver's a little more busy," Aarnes said.
While the Sorlie Bridge has been closed for over a week, Sheppard said that typically doesn’t deter people for long as most customers get used to taking a detour over the Kennedy Bridge.