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Corps levee plan leaves out Ascension

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GONZALES - The Louisiana Army Corps of Engineers has decided to go forward with a levee plan that does not include protection for Ascension Parish.

Tuesday, the Corps announced they would move forward with Alternative C, a plan which includes levee protection around St. John and populated portions of St. James along the Hope Canal. Alternative D would have included Ascension Parish by extending the levee along the northern edge of I-10 from Maurepas to the Marvin Breaux Pump Station.

Alternative C is estimated to cost about $881 million. The Corps said it picked that plan because the annual net benefit was the highest among the alternatives evaluated.

Pontchartrain Levee District President Steve Wilson said he was disappointed with the decision, but pleased the process is moving along.

"We were hoping with the last leg of St. James and Ascension Parish," Wilson said. "We haven't backed down at getting this levee all the way to Ascension Parish, but thought it was best to let it progress."

In October, the board promised to pay $11 million for a levee around Ascension Parish if the federal government decides not to pay the bill. Wilson said that commitment still stands.

"One way or another, as of now, the Pontchartrain Levee District is still committed to the people of Ascension Parish to end this levee to the Marvin Breaux Pump Station," he said.

The PLD collects $9 million annually from the parishes it represents, which includes East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parish.

Wilson could not give a hard number on how much upkeep and repairs would cost for the potential levee around Ascension.

The PLD is still trying to persuade the corps to include Ascension Parish in its final draft before June 2014 when it is sent to Congress for approval.

"In theory, this could go to Congress and our congressional representatives could say we want Alternative D, and it could change," Wilson said.


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