Mississippi River mayors recommend $7.8 billion flood mitigation and infrastructure plan

The mayors of Bemidji and Minneapolis joined 18 other mayors of cities along the Mississippi River this week in Washington, D.C. to unveil infrastructure improvement plans from Minnesota to Louisiana.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) met Wednesday and Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers to promote the infrastructure bill.

Their purpose was to promote the plan to improve infrastructure that would, in part, ease flooding hazards in riverside communities. 

“The National Weather Service hydrologic outlook for our entire corridor predicts considerable risk for significant flooding into the spring,” said Lionel Johnson, Mayor of St. Gabriel and Co-Chair of the MRCTI. “We must act. We are in D.C. urging serious proposals to address the vulnerabilities we see on the ground.”

The mayors recommended a $7.8 billion plan that they say would create 147,000 jobs and continue 1.5 million more jobs. The MRCTI estimates a $23.8 billion economic impact as a result of the added infrastructure as well.

Davenport, Iowa Mayor Frank Klipsch said grant programs aren’t enough to invest in the arterial waterway, so the mayors’ plan called for a revolving loan fund to help these cities with ecological hazards.

“CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) brought several investors to meet with us regarding our significant infrastructure projects. It’s partnerships like these that can create new funding streams to bring a vision to fruition,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The mayors also recommended recycling capacity be included in the infrastructure plan.

“China was taking 40 percent of the paper and plastic waste generated by the United States. Now, communities will be responsible for recycling and processing the vast majority of their own waste. The recycling infrastructure simply does not exist in the US to manage the tremendous plastic waste we are now having to assimilate,” added Rita Albrecht, the mayor of Bemidji.

According to Rick Eberlin, the mayor of Grafton, IL, time is of the essence.

“We’re looking at the possibility of catastrophic flooding in the Mississippi River Valley that could approach 1993 flood levels that hit us in the St. Louis area. So, we need to take action now. Our Cities are working with each other, working with the Corps of Engineers, and FEMA to prepare. But, we want to stop these billion-dollar disasters. Over the last ten years ten or more disaster declarations have been designated in thirty states while six states have received twenty or more,” Eberlin said.

This story was reported from Minnesota.