Council plans West Bank hurricane levee improvements

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY-Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – Long-range plans for the West Bank hurricane protection levee system include closing gaps near Bayou Gauche, behind Ama and behind Hahnville and Taft, according to a report Monday to the St. Charles Parish Council.

Rick Shread of Shread-Kuyrkendall reviewed progress on the levee portion now under construction along Magnolia Ridge, behind Boutte, and followed up with projections for future segments all across the West Bank of St. Charles Parish.

Meanwhile, Councilman Terry Authement urged expediting Phase Four, the Des Allemands bulkhead, from Up the Bayou Road to the Sunset Drainage District. “The back door’s open,” Authement said, and pointed out hundreds of families are threatened through the area, should a storm’s tidal surge reach catastrophic proportions.

The first phase began construction late last year, breaking a 10-year logjam with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources.

Parish President Albert Laque got the final permit to begin building the 3.4-mile levee phase in March 2002, with hopes to have this segment completed in three years. Ground-breaking was held in September 2002.

The 60-foot wide levee project will also include a pumping station (the design for which is now 75 percent complete), a weir, a gated structure with a boat bay, five equalizer sites and four gated equalizer structures.

The permit has a time limit to conclude construction of this phase by March 31, 2007. The segment goes from the Paradis Canal to behind Holder Estates in Boutte.

Shread said the DNR wanted the project broken into three phases, rather than the original single phase, in order to start construction more rapidly. The second phase extends to Cousins Canal and the third encircles the Lakewood and Willowdale area to the Davis Pond West Guide Levee.

However, Shread continued, the Willowdale segment might begin construction earlier, as negotiations are still in progress over the exact route to be used in Phase Two.

“The footprint is not yet resolved,” Shread said.

The third phase would also include a planned 350-acre ponding area inside the levee system to facilitate drainage.

Future segments include near Cajun Paradise, along Louisiana Highway 3127 and from the East Guide Levee of the Davis Diversion system to Jefferson Parish’s levee.

Councilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran asked why the project is taking so long, and Shread pointed out the application went in 10 years ago and was split into three phases three years ago.

“We’re dealing with state and federal agencies here,” Shread pointed out.