Spillway Road still closed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009


NORCO — After rising very close to flood stages at several gauges in the River Parishes area at the end of last month, water from the Mississippi River has been gradually receding back to normal levels.

The swollen river completely engulfed various recreational facilities within the Bonnet Carre Spillway and also led to the closure of Spillway Road, which connects Montz to Norco in St. Charles Parish.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, river gauges at Reserve in St. John, the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles and Carrollton in New Orleans have shown a gradual but steady decrease over the past two weeks. Corps officials said they are satisfied with the rate at which the water is going down.

“We had a slow start at first, but now it is receding at a more regular rate,” said corps spokesperson Amanda Jones. “We don’t want to see it fall too fast.”

Water levels reached their peak May 30, when the gages indicated that the river was very close to flood stages throughout the River Parishes. Jones said daily readings by the corps have shown that the river is falling at a rate of about .75 inches per day.

“The Carrollton gauge was showing a level of 15.4 feet this morning,” said Jones. “We expect the level to drop below 14 feet by the end of the week. We will continue daily patrols of the area until the river gets to 15 feet at Carrollton.”

The seasonal rise in the Mississippi River forced St. Charles Parish officials to close Spillway Road indefinitely on May 13. Last week the low-lying road was completely swallowed up by the advancing river and covered by roughly three feet of water in some places. The parish has since placed gravel stone on the north side of the culverts along the road to prevent erosion.

Jones said the water along the road could recede completely by the end of next week, but parish officials have said there is no specific timeline for reopening the road to traffic. St. Charles public works must first inspect the road for damage and ensure it is suitable for everyday traffic. There is no indication of how long that could take.

The road was shut down for most of last year after it sustained extensive damage when the spillway was opened last April. The parish received $250,000 in funding from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to help repair the road, but the parish still had to foot the remaining balance to complete the project, which had a total price tag of $489,700. The road finally reopened in October after being delayed during the onslaught of hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Although Spillway Road has no official opening date, Jones did say that the corps hopes to reopen the newly refurbished boat launch on the LaPlace side of the spillway sometime today. She said corps employees have been out all this week trying to clean the launch area now that the water has gone down.