Video: $760M St. John hurricane protection levee expected ready for 2023

Published 3:38 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

LAPLACE — The Westshore levee project is expected to be complete by 2023, officials said, adding the five-year timeline includes two years of planning and three years of construction.

Finalizing design and securing real estate for the 18-mile levee are the next steps, according to Colonel Michael Clancy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District.

“We’re working in conjunction with the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority and the Pontchartrain Levee District to get the real estate that will ultimately own the levees,” Clancy said.

“It’s a lot of work, but we want to make sure we know exactly where the levee’s going and get the land before we start building it. Hopefully by late 2020, early 2021, it will be in construction and we will actually start to build the levee.”

The three-year construction phase includes shaping nine million cubic yards of clay, creating pumping stations and restoring wetlands in accordance with environmental mitigation, Clancy said.

Parish President Natalie Robottom presents U.S. Rep. Garret Graves with a key to St. John Parish as a thank you for his work securing federal funding for levee protection.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said St. John the Baptist Parish is going to be instrumental in property acquisition by making sure agencies understand the needs of the community.

Robottom expects the real estate portion of the project to progress without delay, noting Wildlife and Fisheries owns a bulk of the land needed for construction.

“We have 11 contracts and a combination of agencies that are working together, and I think that will allow this project to move very quickly,” Robottom said.

According to Robottom, the levee should protect at least 100,000 people across St. John, St. James and St. Charles Parishes.

The $760 million project is fully funded upfront, and Robottom said local repayment begins in 30 years.

In April 2017, St. John Parish residents passed a property tax that Robottom said would help collect $50 million over time to go toward repayment and levee maintenance.