Corps confirms levee plan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2013

By David Vitrano

LAPLACE – It has been more than a year since Hurricane Isaac devastated portions of the River Parishes and left many local residents wondering if the promise of flood protection would ever become a reality.
St. John the Baptist Parish residents should now be able to breathe a little easier after the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed its tentatively selected plan to build storm protections measures that will keep the waters of Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas from filling the streets of St. John Parish. The decision came after a comment period following the corps’ announcement that it had tentatively settled on the alignment.
“We received and evaluated a wide variety of agency and public comments before reaching the decision to confirm the TSP,” said Col. Rick Hansen, commander of the New Orleans District. “I want to assure you that we listened to the comments, and those helped us make an informed decision as we moved the study forward.”
According to a release from the corps, the selected plan will provide risk reduction for approximately 60,000 residents in the study area and takes into consideration the concerns of the local residents.
The selected plan avoids some oil and gas pipelines, and includes non-structural measures for structures outside the proposed levee alignment that are at risk from storm surge flooding. Current estimates are that the plan will cost approximately $881 million and result in approximately $23 million in annual net benefits, highest among the alternatives evaluated. Unfortunately, St. James Parish will not be protected by the planned levee as it will stop near the St. John/St. James parish line, but the plan includes other measures designed to protect the east bank of St. James Parish.
“We are encouraged that the residents of St. James Parish are still being considered within the choice of Tentatively Selected Plan,” said St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel. “I, as parish president, am committed to working with the corps and levee district to help provide flood protection for our residents. According to the plan, St. James Parish will not be left out. The corps has committed to the construction of flood proofing measures such as ring levees of populated areas, culvert gates, closures and pumping stations to help protect the residents in vulnerable areas.”
He continued, “I look forward to working with the Army Corps of Engineers, Pontchartrain Levee District, Louisiana Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, as well as the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, in the development and execution of additional plans that serve this study area that may go beyond what the federal process can justify, not only integrating coastal projects and highway protection projects, but to do what is necessary in order to complete the needed safeguards for residents, businesses and infrastructure.”
The corps will now begin refining these non-structural measures. Non-structural measures could include but are not limited to ring levees for the more populated areas and flap gates on flow-through culverts, as well as elevation and flood proofing of homes and buildings.
“As we continue with the process we remain committed to working closely with our partners and stakeholders,” said Hansen. “There will likely be some additional refinements as we move forward and it is imperative that we continue to keep our lines of communication open and active.”
For more information on the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction project, visit