Posted on April 10, 2023
With all access roads now complete and construction contracts set to be awarded for two more reaches this spring, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project is continuing to move toward a 2026 completion.
During a “West Shore Wednesday” update streamed via Facebook Live, St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard explained that the sand base of the levee is already offering some degree of protection.
“Obviously, it’s not the full level of protection that we will see once the levee is constructed, but in 2023 we will see some level of protection with that sand base in,” Hotard said. “We have a little bit of protection currently, but I don’t want to give a false sense of security. In those worst-case scenarios, like with Hurricane Ida, we are still vulnerable to storm surge.”
In a recent stakeholder update, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District shared plans to have the levee built to heights of around 6 feet in 2024. This will increase to 6.5 to 12 feet in 2025 before the full elevation is achieved in 2026. The construction is divided into numerous contracts representing different sections of the levee from the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway to the western end of Garyville.
The most recent contract was awarded to B&K Construction of Mandeville on March 15 in the amount of $25,467,475 for reach 107, which represents approximately 1.7 miles of the 17.5-mile alignment. This section of the levee will reach an elevation of 9.6 feet in the marshland north of Reserve.
“Delivering the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction project is a top priority for the Corps of Engineers and its partners, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Pontchartrain Levee District,” said USACE Senior Project Manager Bradley Drouant. “This contract for construction of the system’s second large-scale levee reach is another important step towards achieving the federal, state and local commitment to residents of St. Charles, St. John and St. James parishes.”
In December 2022, the first major construction contract was awarded to Lemoine-Frazier LLC of Lafayette in the amount of $9,351,590 for levee reach 110, located near Garyville.
The next construction contract is expected to be awarded this month for reach 101a at the Eastern end of the alignment near the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway. The fourth section, reach 106, has a target contract award date of May 2023.
In addition to access road construction, completed contracts include test sections, clay stockpiles, sand stockpiles and sand placement.
Pumps, floodgates, floodwalls and other drainage structures will be among the last pieces of the levee to be installed, according to Hotard.
She added that her administration is taking an “aggressive approach” to addressing drainage issues, not only from storm surge, but also from rainfall events.
“Once this levee system is put in, it’s going to change the way our drainage systems work,” she said. “We have been really successful in obtaining grant dollars to clean out our canals.”