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Monthly levee update: Traffic increases to begin soon, test contract added to project

LAPLACE — Increased truck traffic on Airline Highway relating to the West Shore Levee Project, originally projected to begin near the end of January, has been delayed a few weeks due to ongoing access road construction.

As the stockpiling of clay occurs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said St. John the Baptist Parish residents can expect to see an increased amount of traffic from the Spillway to an access road located near the River Forest Subdivision and Shady Nook Trailer Park on Airline Highway.

According to Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, another area that will be impacted in the near future is the Reserve Relief Canal boat launch. Construction traffic and boat launch traffic will utilize the same access road for a brief period.

Traffic is expected to continue for the duration of levee construction.

During a recent stakeholder update for the West Shore Levee Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared that various levee design reviews are ongoing. Field investigations have determined that subsurface conditions are poor, necessitating extra steps to ensure 100-level storm protection to families in the River Region.

According to the Corps of Engineers, “To ensure a successful and economically viable construction effort, designs will be delayed to accommodate a test section program.”

The scope of the test section is being developed, and a pile load test contract should be awarded in the near future. As of now, the levee is still expected to reach completion in Spring 2024.

Access road designs have been coordinated with DOTD, and their comments are being incorporated into various designs.

The $760 million West Shore Levee Project is around 18.5 miles in length, including 17.5 miles of levee from the Bonnet Carrė Spillway to Garyville, one mile of T-wall, four pumping stations, two drainage structures and approximately 35 utility relocations. The project additionally involves flood risk reduction measures in St. James Parish.

An estimated 3.5 million cubic yards of clay material is expected to come from the Bonnet Carrė Spillway. Senior Project Manager Chris Gilmore estimates 7 to 9 million cubic yards of clay material will be needed for the entire levee construction.

The Corps has been approved to use commercially available borrow sources to gather the remainder of the clay needed for the construction. According to Gilmore, submissions for potential borrow sources closed in November 2020. The Corps is continuing to review all received submissions.

The West Shore Levee is currently planned to include 13 levee construction contracts and one pump station contract. Many of the contracts will be advertised between February and November 2021.
The Corps of Engineers also plans to issue several smaller contracts for pre-construction efforts. Two stockpile contracts have been awarded, one in December 2019 and the other in September 2020. A sand stockpile contract was advertised on Nov. 4, 2020.

Monthly stakeholder updates can be found at sjbparish.com/levee_project_index.php

Parish President Hotard holds West Shore Wednesdays the fourth Wednesday of every month on Facebook Live to share information gained from stakeholder meetings with the public.