Residents frustrated with set-backs in construction of Comite Diversion Canal
BATON ROUGE- Residents in Central expressed lots of frustration with the Comite Diversion Canal's continuous delays.
"I'm tired of hearing about 30 people who don't want to give up their property, what about the tens of thousands that lost their homes because of this, you have another event like this you better move out of the state," said one resident.
The state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a town hall meeting to give an update on the construction timeline and hear from residents.
"This idea of a sliding schedule and they put another year on us is maddening," said one resident.
"How much longer are we supposed to wait, how many more people need to be affected how many more have to flood," said another.
This coming after the project was delayed by another year, it was planned to be completed in December of 2021. Now, that date pushed back to December of 2022, due to land acquisition and utility relocation.
"The number of parcels has increased from 50 parcels to around 80 and over 60 utilities have to be relocated, so all of that has combined into seeing the schedule that we are seeing,” said Nick Sims with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Construction of the 12-mile long channel has been discussed since the 1960s, with many hoping it will divert water from the Comite River and other smaller waterways into the Mississippi River.
But a March 2021 statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicates that locals will have to remain patient and keep waiting for the completion of the project. The Corps saying they do understand the frustration and sympathize with those affected.
“We certainly feel for all the people that went through 2016 and all the other events and we feel their frustration and we just want everybody to know we are working as expediently as possible," said Sims as they ensure progress is being made.
"We've got active contraction in numerous sites out there. Highway 61, the bridge and railroad that we are building there. We’ve cleaned and grubbed about half of the project footprint and we’ve got a number of awards coming up here this month,” said Sims.
But, for Central residents, that’s not enough.
"I want to see it done sooner than later and I don't want to hear any more excuses,” said one resident.
"I want to go out and see the dirt flying. I want to see shovels and cranes. I want to see work being done,” said another.
The Corps of Engineers says they are working as fast as they can and in the next month they will be digging the canal.
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