Federal funds to pay for Spillway Road repairs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011



NORCO – St. Charles Parish officials recently received assurances that federal funds will help pay for damage to the Bonnet Carre Spillway road and other infrastructure within the spillway recreation area caused by the opening of the flood control structure earlier this year.

St. Charles is among 15 parishes in the state eligible for federal disaster relief in the wake of severe Mississippi River flooding in the spring that required opening of both the Bonnet Carre and Morganza spillways. The emergency declaration, which was signed on Aug. 18, means St. Charles Parish is eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repairs to the mile-long road, along with a pair of boat launches along the spillway’s lower suction canal.

Parish spokesperson Renee Simpson said the estimated cost of the road repair project is about $1.2 million. She said the parish has already spent about $50,000 to make temporary repairs to portions of the road that were washed out by the rush of water through the spillway. The spillway was open for 42 days beginning May 9 to divert rising river water from New Orleans.

“We’re proud of the fact that St. Charles Parish is home to the measure by which our neighbors downriver can be saved from catastrophic river flooding,” said Parish President V.J. St. Pierre. “Even though no homes flooded, we still had a flood event here that damaged parish infrastructure. The funds are very welcomed to help us adequately deal with this somewhat unexpected expense.”

Simpson said the boat launches in question include one nearest to Airline Highway, in which the underwater concrete ramp was washed away, and another under interstate 10 at Lake Pontchartrain, which was heavily damaged.

Simpson said the temporary repairs, which included the use of limestone infill donated by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, were completed in July. The parish had to fill in four separate spots in the road that were completely washed away by the force of the water.

The asphalt road, which has been managed and maintained by the parish since 1992, suffers heavy damage every time river water rises and water flows through the spillway. The road was severely damaged in 2008, the last time the spillway was opened, and again in 2009 when a seasonal river rise pushed water over the road.

In addition to the federal award, parish officials also announced that a $2,000 grant given by Entergy of Louisiana would help defray the parish’s share of repair costs.