Levee plans revealed, residents weigh-in on design
ST. AMANT - Wednesday night, people unprotected from flooding learned about plans to protect them from high water since Ascension Parish is moving forward with a project approved by voters in 1983.
Already, pumping stations and a flood-wall have been built. The final piece is a 4.5 mile levee extension to deal with backwater flooding from the Amite River.
At a public meeting at the St. Amant Park Auditorium Wednesday, many people supported the levee project that would protect thousands of residents.
"They've sandbagged long enough," said Ascension Parish Councilman Randy Clouatre. "I've helped them sandbag and I've been living here all my life."
The proposed Laurel Ridge Levee Extension project begins at the east end of Gold Place Road and travels north to Wall Cemetery Road. That alignment has been turned into the Army Corps of Engineers for further review to obtain a permit for construction.
The levee's route takes a couple sharp dog-legs. One in particular has a lot of residents who live along Lake Martin concerned.
"It would put this levee in our backyard," said Jimmy Bolner, who lives along the lake. "Not just our backyard, but everyone who lives on the lake."
Although most of the residents agree a levee is needed, they oppose a specific section. The homeowners, who would not be protected from the levee, say the path of it would destroy the swamp and could potentially pollute Lake Martin.
"Storm water from a normal rain is going to put trash in the lake," said Bolner. "We live on the lake and we don't want to see that."
Parish leaders and the East Ascension Drainage Board listened to audience comments. The board said they plan to transcribe all concerns from the meeting and respond to each person.
GSA Consulting Engineers, INC. said the proposed levee would reduce 100 year flood stages by several feed. It would also protect approximately 4,000 residents; 5,100 acres and about 1,700 structures.
The parish wants to get the levee certified with the federal government so it will help bring down the cost of insurance rates.
The parish is waiting for the Corps to approve their proposal for a permit to begin building. This could take eight to ten months. Once the permits are received, the final design will be completed. Officials say they could be contacting landowners prior to that.
Ultimately, the parish hopes to begin construction in a year and a half. The project is estimated to take a year and a half to complete.