St. Charles west bank levee groundbreaking scheduled

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 4, 2014

LULING – St. Charles Parish residents have much to look forward to in the New Year, as their communities will soon be safer from potential flood waters.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the Willowridge reach of the St. Charles Parish West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the end of Lafayette Drive in Luling. The event is open to the public and will feature guest speakers from both parish and state government.

The flood control project is part of the $500 million St. Charles Parish West Bank Levee Initiative and is the first phase of four total phases.

Residents who live in the construction area recently received information regarding project timing, speed limits and access to the levee right-of-way. Trespassing on the right-of-way is prohibited, and violators will be referred to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Mobilization has already begun, and clearing and grading of land along the levee alignment up to the subdivision’s property boundary directly south of Willowridge and Willowdale will commence soon after.

Once complete, the first phase of the Willowridge Levee will offer 5 and ½ feet of hurricane and tidal flooding protection from the Peterson Canal to an existing berm behind Willowridge Drive.

When all four phases are complete, the levee will stand at 7 feet and include the new Willowridge Pump Station, a detention pond and two tidal interchange structures.

The St. Charles Parish West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee is a multi-phase project that encompasses 33 miles from the Davis Diversion West Guide Levee in Luling to a ridge at Highway 308 in Lafourche Parish. This long-term project is split into four reaches within St. Charles Parish – Willowridge in Luling, Ellington in Luling and Boutte, Magnolia Ridge in Boutte and Sunset in Paradis, Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands. It will offer flood protection to approximately 25,300 residents and numerous business and industrial sites, including energy and petrochemical producers. It will also protect U.S. Highway 90, a critical evacuation route for southeast Louisiana residents from multiple parishes.

All phases are being worked on simultaneously as funding allows. The Lafourche Basin Levee District is currently working with Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to have the overall levee alignment included in the state’s Coastal Master Plan, which will open the door for further state funding and BP RESTORE Act funding for the levee. CPRA is in the process of evaluating the hydraulic model of the levee system and preparing a cost/benefit ratio for the project.

If CPRA makes a favorable recommendation, the Louisiana Legislature can include funding through the fiscal year 2015 annual plan that the Legislature would adopt in its 2014 session.