Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Long-promised Comite Diversion project to break ground this week

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CENTRAL - State Representative Valarie Hodges has been working on getting the Comite Diversion project going for five years now.

"People said 'that's never going to happen' and I'm saying 'it is happening. Just drive out there and see,'" Hodges said.

On top of catastrophic loss, people in the area have been paying for the $450 million project since the flood of 1983.

"I kept saying it's not a matter of if we have another catastrophic flood, it's a matter of when," Hodges said.

On Wednesday, a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony will take place at the project site, but work has actually been going on for weeks.

"They've already been relocating the pipelines. Marathon and some of the bigger pipelines are actually relocating right now. The telephone companies, utility companies, are going to start relocating. The bridges are being designed over Highway 61 and 964," she said.

Current projections have the project finished by 2021. DOTD says if it had been done decades ago, it could have mitigated the effects of the 2016 flood by four feet in places hit hardest like Central.

"That's significant," Central mayor David Barrow said. "If we had had that drop in 2016, it would have spared hundreds of homes probably."

Barrow says the people aren't dwelling on the what-ifs any more, they just want to see forward progress.

"It's been talked about for several years, people are talking about 'when's the work going to start?' So everyone is glad to see that dirt's actually being turned and progress is being made and there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place Wednesday morning at 9.


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