Area’s leaders advocating in Washington

Published 11:45 pm Friday, September 12, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Washington, D.C., will be full of River Region elected officials and key business representatives next week when two important events take place over the course of three days.

On Tuesday, St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom will defend and support the recommended plan for an $881 million West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane risk reduction project levee.

Ready to “convince the Army Corps of Engineers this project is ready to move forward,” Robottom said she will travel with representatives from the Corps, the Pontchartrain Levee District, Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. and the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority to support the recommended plan. Other River Region elected and administrative officials will join her.

The meeting will determine whether senior officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize Corps representatives to go before Congress and ask for $881 million to spend on the levee.

“This project is long overdue and is critical to protecting our residents, businesses and industry,” Robottom said. “This is the first step to getting the levee constructed, and I look forward to representing St. John the Baptist Parish in support of the plan under consideration by the board.”

In November the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed a tentatively selected plan to build storm protections measures. The selected plan, named Alternative C, is 18 miles in length and would help protect Montz, LaPlace, Reserve and Garyville. The levee would run between the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Montz and the Hope Canal in Garyville.

During another D.C. trip, representatives from and members of the River Region Chamber of Commerce will spend Wednesday and Thursday at the nation’s capital for the Chamber’s third annual Washington Fly-In.

RRCC Executive Director Chassity McComack said parish presidents, numerous elected officials and Chamber business members will spend the two days meeting with representatives of the Louisiana delegation.

“It’s our opportunity as River Region businesses to have visibility and a presence in Washington,” McComack said of the trip, adding she expects the two days to be packed with a good exchange of information from area business and elected leaders to the numerous representatives in D.C.

St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr., who is participating in the Washington Fly-In, said he thinks levee protection is the most important issue to be discussed next week.

“I am very appreciative of the Chamber for organizing a trip during which business, industry and parish presidents are able to talk to our Congressional delegation with a united front on issues that impact all,” St. Pierre said. “Levee protection is the most important of those issues, and I will make sure that both Corps representatives and our Congressional delegation understand that the time is now to act to fund these projects … for the entire River Region.”