June Update: Levee Project making progress this summer

Published 3:59 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

LAPLACE — The test section of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project is complete, and work will continue this summer on sand placement and construction of access roads, according to the most recent stakeholder update from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The West Shore Levee Project is intended to provide storm surge protection to more than 60,000 residents in St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes. Construction of the levee will be divided into several reaches dependent upon the completion of access roads.

Access roads A, B, C, F, G, P and S are underway with an estimated completion date of November 2022. Access road A is located west of Garyville, while S is the easternmost access road located near the St. Charles Parish line.

Access road J, which runs through the sugarcane fields near the River Forest subdivision, was the first road completed and allowed for the recent construction of the test section (WSLP-101).

Equipment was mobilized on June 20, 2022 for the first sand placement contract (SP1), which was awarded in April 2022 to Phylway for a 145-day duration and a base amount of $1.2 million.

The second sand placement contract, SP2, was awarded in May 2022 to Phylway for a base amount of $3.1 million and a 170-day duration. A pre-construction conference for SP2 was held on June 15, and equipment is expected to mobilize in early July.

Sand stockpiling and one of two clay stockpiling contracts have been completed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also reported that a pile load test contract will be advertised in early July and awarded in September. The project team is continuing to coordinate with non-federal sponsor Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on requests for additional work to accommodate the Port of South Louisiana’s airport runway extension plans.

Some modifications may be made to the West Shore Levee Project as a result of disaster supplemental funds. A total of $3 million has been provided for a West Shore Lake Pontchartrain General Re-evaluation Report focused on resiliency. Timing and scope of this report is still pending, and the non-federal sponsors are working together to provide the required documents to move these studies forward.

Up to $450 million in additional construction funds has been set aside, and how these dollars are implemented will depend on the findings of the report.

When $760 million was announced for the levee in 2018, the project was considered fully federally funded.

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves said the additional $453 million announced in January 2022 was funded by the Hurricane Ida Supplemental Disaster Relief Bill, bringing the total federal investment in the project to more than $1.2 billion.

An estimated completion date for the West Shore Levee Project was not included in the stakeholder update. The construction was previously estimated to reach completion in Spring 2024, and L’OBSERVATEUR is awaiting a response from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on whether the project is holding to schedule.

Earlier this year, Congressman Graves told L’OBSERVATEUR that, while adding resiliency features could extend the overall timeline of the project, he is optimistic significant protection will be in place by 2024.

The groundbreaking for construction of the West Shore Levee Project took place in July 2021. The project spans 18.5 miles, which includes 17.5 miles of levees, one mile of T-wall, drainage structures, pump stations and several non-structural protection measures to form an integrated protection system.