A project on Hwy. 169 developed between MnDOT and Mankato city officials will prevent residents in North Mankato from being required to pay flood insurance.

"After Hurricane Katrina FEMA went through and said we have these levies across the country and we got to make sure that they're in good shape," MnDOT project manager Peter Harff said. 

The $3.2 million project, which includes construction and engineering, derives from a flaw identified by FEMA, and would alleviate the potential flood zone just north of Hwy. 14 by raising the road above the 100–year flood level.

"It ends up being about a three–foot grade raise. In that three feet we have to get to that base flood elevation and that requires about two feet of grade raise and MnDOT said we want to take it to the three foot grade raise which puts us at the base flood elevation plus one," Harff said. 

An even bigger project supported by the Mankato City Council would address the potential flood zone while modifying the interchange at highways 169 and 14.

Though the levees deadline is approaching by the end of this year.

"It's probably not going to have much affect because of the deadline that's been put on us. The 14 and 169 project was something that's been in the works forever," Mankato councilman Mark Frost said.

Proposals for a possible cloverleaf interchange could cost as much as $50 million.

"The one movement that's challenging, let's say, on the Hwy. 14 Hwy. 169 interchange is eastbound Hwy. 14 where it intersects Hwy. 169. Instead of having a ramp or a loop where you can keep flowing there's a stop condition at the bottom of that ramp," Harff said.

State funding will be sought for the new interchange in the coming years.

For now, providing immediate protection to the levee system remains at the top of the to–do list.

The levee project is estimated to take place August through October.

--KEYC News 12