Louisiana Breaks Ground on $760m Levee Project

The project was first proposed 50 years ago.

Source : West Shore Lake Pontchartrain - New Orleans, USACE

August 3, 2021

Author : Alex Bustillos

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards led a groundbreaking ceremony, officiating the launch of the project on Monday, July 26.

The levee will run from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to the Mississippi River Levee near Garyville, including 17.5 miles of levee and a mile of T-wall. Officials say that the project will protect 60,000 residents of St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James Parishes.

“Thousands of Louisianans and millions of dollars of residential and commercial property will receive a much deserved increase in their level of hurricane protection,” Governor Edwards said according to the Associated Press.

The project was originally proposed in 1970 when River Parishes officials feared that levee systems being built in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy would cause spillover to communities on the western edge of Lake Pontchartrain, local media have reported.

Meanwhile, five hurricanes in the last year and what have been described as “rain bombs” are reportedly making residents consider leaving.

“It’s hard continuing to go through all these events, gutting your home, evacuate your family, having to move your business out,” said Representative Garret Graves of Baton Rouge.

In 1987, the US Army Corps of Engineers said in a report that the costs of construction would outweigh the benefits of such a project. But finally in 2018, Congress funded the project with the requirement that it be completed by 2024.

The Army Corp of Engineers awarded two contracts for stockpiling clay, an additional contract for stockpiling sand, and one more for clearing 195 acres of trees along the levee’s path.

When it’s all said and done, the district will run operations at the levee system. 

The contract to clear the trees was awarded in 2019 and the US Army Corp of Engineers have used the cleared ground to sample soil to help design the levee. Commander of the US Army Corp of Engineers’ New Orleans District Office Col. Stephen Murphy said the 100-foot wide path cleared will be “used for demonstration projects aimed at determining the best methods to build the levee in a freshwater swamp environment.”

According to the Col., the state has provided most of its 35 percent share of the levee’s construction cost.

Category : Investment in Infrastructure State Government Procurement Public Works

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