Federal, state & local agreement reached for West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Risk Reduction Project
Published 4:37 pm Friday, February 22, 2019
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District; Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana and Pontchartrain Levee District signed the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Project Partnership Agreement for construction of hurricane and storm damage risk reduction features in St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes.
“The Coastal Master Plan called for this large-scale hurricane protection project, and now that we have the funding we’re wasting no time in moving it forward,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We have 60,000 people who will benefit by having their homes, families, jobs and communities better protected from the increasing threat of tropical storm surge. Hurricane Isaac flooded about 7,000 homes in this region, and emergency services, recovery efforts and commerce were hindered by having I-10 flooded for several days. Once this $760 million project is completed, we hope never to see that kind of suffering again.”
The West Shore Lake Pontchartrain project was authorized by Congress in 2016 to provide a 100-year level of storm surge risk reduction in the three parish study area, including communities such as LaPlace, Gramercy, Lutcher, Grand Point and Garyville.
The approximately $760 million project will include structural features such as a 17.5 mile levee and four pump stations, as well as non-structural measures in St. James Parish. Construction of the project is being funded through a 65 percent federal, 35 percent local cost share.
“The importance of this project is underscored by Congress’ decision to provide upfront funding through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018,” said Col. Michael Clancy, commander, New Orleans District, USACE. “The federal, state and local partners’ shared commitment will ensure that all the necessary resources can be leveraged to provide the people of St. Charles, St. James and St. John parishes with an unprecedented level of risk reduction.”
“After 40-plus years of wandering in the desert of federal bureaucracy, people in the River Region are about to take possession of the flood protection promised to them a generation ago. In 2016 we passed congressional authorization for the 42-year overdue, much needed, highly anticipated West Shore Hurricane Protection Project. In 2018 we secured $760 million to complete the project in 5 years or less. Today’s program memorializes a commitment by the state, Pontchartrain Levee District, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Charles Parish and St. James Parish to purchase the property needed to construct the levee – this project is finally, actually underway. Today is a great day for the River Region, and we commend the State, the Pontchartrain Levee District, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Charles Parish and St. James Parish for their leadership to advance the West Shore Project,” said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was signed into law Feb.9, 2018. The act provides funding that will be used by the New Orleans District for projects in southeast Louisiana such as the Carrolton Floodwall, Comite River Diversion, and East Baton Rouge, Grand Isle and West Shore Lake Pontchartrain flood risk reduction projects.
Funds will also be used for repairs to the Mississippi River and Tributaries and for five studies.
Work on WSLP began in June with the development of the project alignment, request for rights-of-entry for field investigations, and updating of the necessary environmental documents.
Now that the project partnership has been executed, work can begin on collecting field data that will be used to determine the final levee alignment and to complete detailed designs of the project.
Construction of the system is expected to be complete in spring 2024.
St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said local residents have waited patiently for flood protection, and the signature of the Project Partnership Agreement moves the project closer to construction.
“Once completed, thousands of residents and millions of dollars of residential and commercial property will be protected and the community better prepared for hurricane season,” Robottom said. “I would like to thank the Governor’s Office, US Army Corps of Engineers, our Congressional delegation and the Pontchartrain Levee District for their tireless work on this project. The number one priority of my Administration is to ensure this project is completed and today’s signing ceremony brings us one step closer to fulfilling my commitment.”