Levee renovation in store for Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE- Engineers are planning to permanently beef up protection along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.
A part of River Road has been closed near Brightside Lane for two weeks while they tested high river pressure at seepage points in the levee, measured water flow from that seepage and kept an eye on big sand boils like the one in Farr Park.
The results show a make-over is needed.
President of the Pontchartrain Levee District, Steve Wilson, said, "This situation, I won't fool anybody, this has given us a kind of new found priority, a push so to speak."
The district and the Corps of Engineers have been slowly planning a permanent fix to problem areas along the levee in Baton Rouge. After the 2008 high water scare, work started near the base of the levee across from Farr Park. But now, after this round of stress, a renovation is set to start in September and should be ready to take on high water in the Spring.
The construction will involve building the base of the levee higher and across River Road. The road will be moved and put on top of the new land. Engineers say that will allow for the levee to keep it's strength and for any seepage to flow further this way.
Wilson said, "Ultimately you'll have a drainage system that carries any seepage or any road-side drainage out through two parallel canals out to Elbow Bayou."
"You won't have a soggy area around the levee," said Senior Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Durund Elzey, "It'll take care of the seepage issues there and overall reduce the risk of flooding in this area."
The Corps will also be building up low levee elevation near the East Baton Rouge-Iberville Parish line where HESCO baskets now add the two feet needed to even out the height.
And while the Corps is confident in its project, it knows it won't be the last.
"There's no end-all solution," said Elzey, "You can't construct it and walk away from it, we'll have to come back and monitor this area during next high water season and if there's additional action that needs to be taken we will take those actions to make certain we maintain the integrity of the levee."
River Road may open before that work starts at the end of the year. If it does, that'll happen when the river gets low enough for the seepage along the bottom of the levee to stop.