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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Large rocks strengthen downtown levee

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BATON ROUGE - Large rocks and boulders will provide added strength to a vulnerable section of the levee in Downtown Baton Rouge.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started building the rock berm in February. Ten thousand tons of rock was laid on top of the downslope of the existing concrete levee between Main Street and North Street.

During last year's record flood, the speed and the amount of water passing through Baton Rouge threatened the concrete walls of downtown's levee. Courtney Elzey, the construction manager for the Corps, said the river was pulling on the walls, and over time, damage could have been disastrous.

"Rocks will help prevent the actual concrete slope from sliding," Elzey said.

If there were a breach in Downtown Baton Rouge, the Corps believes 400 thousand people and nearly 200 thousand structures would be vulnerable. At a cost of $1.7 million, the rock berm won't prevent over-topping, but the addition will hold the levee's downslope in place.

The project plans to wrap in June, and the berm will protect the iconic Baton Rouge sign and logo a few hundred yards down river which will not be touched during construction.

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