Drainage relief is coming for Timbermill Loop residents

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

GARYVILLE-The residents of Timbermill Loop in Garyville should be getting drainage relief from St. John Parish, and they hope it will be soon,because every time it rains in Garyville, Timbermill Loop floods.

Bret Acosta, a Garyville native and resident of Timbermill Loop, said that ever since the new Louisiana Highway 54 was put into the area, their section of town floods.

The problem, according to Acosta, is that the parish, which was trying to alleviate flooding in the southern part of town near the river, caused more problems on the north side of town.

Garyville is a pie-shaped community, and all the storm water drains from the wide, southern end of town to the north and eventually empties into the Hope Canal on the north side of Airline Highway. Timbermill Loop liesbetween the south end of town and Airline Highway, near the narrow end of the pie slice.

To make matters worse, the street also lies between the Illinois Central tracks to the south and the Kansas City tracks to the north. The culvertsunderneath these tracks are too small to handle all the water draining from Garyville, and the same thing applies to the culverts that run underneath Airline Highway. The result is that the storm water backs upwhen it tries to flow under the Kansas City tracks and floods Timbermill Loop.

To try and alleviate the flooding in the south part of town, the parish is going to enlarge the two culverts that run under the Illinois Central tracks. However, Acosta and other residents of the north part of townobjected to that plan at the Aug. 10 meeting of the St. John Parish Council.Tommy Acosta, another Timbermill Loop resident, told the council, “You have to solve the problem in the back first. The water can’t get outbecause of the Kansas City line.”Bret Acosta, who also spoke to the council, said: “We appreciate the money you are spending on drainage, but we don’t want it to flood on anybody. Wefeel that you are starting in the wrong direction.”Councilman Kevin Duhon, who represents Garyville, was sympathetic with the Timbermill Loop residents but said that cost is an important factor in the project. The parish didn’t have the funds to take care of the drainage inTimbermill Loop.

“I do believe we have a problem over at the Kansas City tracks,” Duhon said, “but I am going by the engineers report that says it will work. Thereare houses getting flooded on the south side of the tracks as compared to just street flooding in Timbermill. The house flooding has to beaddressed.”Bret Acosta also pointed out that the Hope Canal also needed dredging to increase its water capacity. Maintenance is another problem, according toAcosta.

“Ninety percent of the problem is maintenance,” he said. “The parish has tokeep the culverts and drainage ditches cleaned out.”Duhon called a special drainage meeting on Aug. 18 to work out all theproblems. At the meeting were 40 concerned Garyville residents, severalcouncilmen, Parish President Arnold Labat, state Rep. Bobby Faucheux andMitch Labas, engineer with Shread-Kuyrkendall & Associates, the engineering firm that handles the drainage for St. John Parish.Labas reported that after receiving complaints from residents, he re- assessed the problem and agreed that the culverts under the Kansas City tracks needed to be enlarged.In addition there were four major obstaclesto good drainage in the area, including: Undersized culverts from the Kansas City tracks to the Hope Canal; Undersized culverts from the Kansas City tracks to the Bourgeoise Canal; Undersized culverts from Airline Highway to the Hope Canal; and Undersized culverts from Airline Highway to the Bourgeoise Canal.

It was also mentioned that the culverts that run under the intersection of La. 54 and the Kansas City tracks were impeding water flow because theywere put in at an angle. Labas said the state would have to take care ofthat problem.

Labas said the biggest problem is the cost. To fix all the problems wouldcost about $1 million, and all they have is $600,000 for the original drainage project under the Illinois Central railroad tracks.

The meeting ended with all agreeing that two to three more culverts of at least 48 inches would be placed under the Kansas City tracks. This wouldcost $100,000. The project for the Illinois Central tracks would be put onhold until Duhon went to the council to get the needed funds for the Kansas City track project. Duhon said that he would like to do both projects at thesame time.

Labat also said he would try to raise the needed $100,000 for the Kansas City track project.

Faucheux said the parish could apply for the Rural Development Block Grant which would fund the culverts under Airline Highway and dredge out the Hope Canal.

At the Aug. 24 council meeting, Duhon explained the situation to thecouncil and made a motion that the parish fund a separate project for a 60-inch culvert on the east side of La. 54. Both Duhon and Labas saidfunding is available because of under costs on other drainage projects around the parish.

Labat said the parish will be able to put another 60-inch culvert at the sewerage plant between the Kansas City tracks and Airline Highway. Thiswill cost only $2,000 and will help alleviate flooding problems.

Before voting on Duhon’s motion, Councilman Joel McTopy wanted to know if the parish could do the project without farming it out to Shear- Kuyrkendall. Parish Engineer C.J. Savoie informed the council that theparish was not prepared to do such work and that the cost would be about the same no matter who did the work.

Councilman Steve Thornton then wondered that if the drainage problem was the result of housing developments in the Garyville area, should the developers pay an impact fee to the parish to help fund the drainage project.

Laurette Thymes, director of Planning and Zoning, told Thornton that Louisiana forbids any parish to levy impact taxes or fees.

Councilman Ranney Wilson and McTopy warned the council that they should be careful with all these add-on drainage projects because money was needed for other areas of St. John that also flood, like Homewood,Riverlands and Cambridge.

The motion passed unanimously. The council also agreed to let Savoieapply for the Rural Development Block Grant to fund dredging out Hope Canal and putting bigger culverts under Airline Highway.

Acosta was pleased with the results of the meeting.

“It looks like Kevin Duhon and the council are working with us,” he said.

“Now we will have to wait and see if this will work.”

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