River Region levee hopes boosted

Published 11:45 pm Friday, September 19, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Progress on a levee to protect the River Region marched forward this week as parish leaders traveled to Washington to support construction of the West Shore Lake Pont-chartrain hurricane risk reduction project levee.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said she is confident the River Parishes is nearing the national support needed for improved flood protection.

She said St. John Parish was well represented Tuesday in D.C. with Council members Marvin Perrilloux, Cheryl Millet and Lennix Madere joining her.

She said all agencies in the Civil Works Review Board meeting were very supportive of the plan; however, minor additions need to be made to the final document before releasing it for a 30-day review.

Expected to be completed by December, the Chief’s Report could allow for Congress to consider final authorization for the project and a funding source.

“The Civil Works Review Board is obviously committed to this project, and I am confident that the New Orleans Corps will make all requested revisions to the document within the next couple of weeks,” Robottom said. “This is a great day for St. John Parish, the River Parishes, and the state of Louisiana.”

Perrilloux said “the overall meeting was informative and a success. The Louisiana team was unified and totally on point with questions that were asked.”

The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed a tentatively selected plan in November to build storm protections measures.

The selected plan, named Alternative C, is 18 miles in length and would protect Montz, LaPlace, Reserve and Garyville. The levee would run between the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Montz and the Hope Canal in Garyville.

St. James Parish would not be protected by the levee, but the plan does include other measures designed to protect the east bank of the parish.

“The safety of St. James Parish residents is my top priority,” St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said. “Although Alignment D would have been the best option for St. James Parish, we do support the Corps decision of Alignment C.”

Roussel said St. James Parish will gain ring levees, pump stations and gate closures north of Highway 3125 with Alignment C. He said he was thankful all the officials involved worked to keep safety measures for St. James Parish in the decision.

St. Charles Parish Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said the meeting and positive feedback was “a major move forward for such a vital flood-protection project for the entire River Region.

“We received support from the Corps Review panel and believe this project — which has been studied since 1971 — will finally get constructed,” Boe said. “The time for studies is over. It’s time to turn dirt.”

Robottom, Roussel, Boe, River Parishes elected officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Pontchartrain Levee District, Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. and the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority all met with Corps senior officials Tuesday to petition them to authorize Corps representatives to go before Congress and ask for $781 million to spend on the levee.