Audit cites lack of funding for Army Corps as reason for Comite Diversion delays
BATON ROUGE – An audit released this month on the Comite River Diversion Canal Project reported that "a lack of consistent and sufficient funding" for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the primary reason for project delays.
The project was originally estimated to be completed in 2012 at a cost of $153 million. However, only one of the 27 construction components, the Lilly Bayou control structure, has been completed for $117 million, the audit reports. Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers has spent $78,401,573 on design and construction of the project. In addition, the Amite River Basin Commission has spent more than $18 million on floodplain management and DOTD has spent more than $19 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers "insufficient purchasing or mitigation land" while acting on behalf of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's Lands, Easements, Right of Ways, Relocations and Diversions (LERRDs) is also cited as contributing to the delays.
Additionally, the audit cites that the current construction delay is also caused by the U.S. Highway 61 bridge construction and utilities relocations that are necessary, as DOTD must relocate pipelines, telecommunications lines prior to bridge construction. However, DOTD is concerned that no federal funding will be approved for the project.
According to the audit, more than $200 million in federal and state funds are still needed to complete the Comite Diversion. The audit states that if funding was received, the project could be completed in two to three years.
To read the full audit report visit here.