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Waterway improvements to start early 2021
BATON ROUGE - Approval has been given for a flood mitigation project to move forward in East Baton Rouge Parish. It's another step in the right direction to solve a drainage issue.
The Metro Council signed off on the measure Wednesday, to give the Parish Attorney's Office authorization to institute expropriation proceedings that may be required in connection with the acquisition of land necessary for the East Baton Rouge Parish Watershed Flood Risk Management Project. Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford says the project requires the use of private property for construction areas and access to the waterways.
"We're not buying any property, we're just using - to rent areas - to do some of the clearing and snagging that needs to be done to put the material on property and then before the project is finished it all gets removed and cleaned up and dressed up." said Raiford.
The project includes the clearing and snagging of Jones Creek, Ward Creek, and Bayou Fountain. Work will extend approximately 3 miles and happen between the mouth of Jones Creek and O'Neal Lane. Work along Ward Creek extends about 3.5 miles and will happen between the mouth of Ward Creek and 400 feet upstream of Pecue Lane. Work along Bayou Fountain will extend about 4.5 miles and will happen between the mouth of Bayou Fountain and Siegen Lane.
The parish is currently looking at 10 properties for the construction needs. Three along Ward Creek, three along Jones Creek, and four along Bayou Fountain. The properties must first be appraised by two separate appraisers. After that work is done, the parish will notify the property owners with an offer.
"Everybody along the channel knows this is happening, we've sent letters out that say we're going to be doing the work in this area," said Raiford.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Watershed Flood Risk Management Project dates back decades and was fully funded a year ago. The Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the management and design of the project, says the original project plan was developed in 1996. Due to development in the project area, the plan has been optimized to reduce the substantial real estate and environmental impacts going forward. The Corps also says hydraulic modeling for the planned improvements has been performed to ensure there would be no negative downstream impacts as a result of the project.
With Wednesday's approval, Raiford says the project's first phase can move forward.
"It will ultimately help reduce flood risk for a lot of people in our parish," said Raiford. "A lot of water runs through these channels to get to the rivers and to me we need to get those enhanced, get them improved so we can help move water where it's supposed to and as quickly as possible without creating a problem downstream."
In total, the project will upgrade about 55 miles of waterway in the parish. It includes the clearing and snagging, widening, concrete lining, and improvements to existing culverts and bridges along the five tributaries. The remaining project improvements are expected to start in early 2022, but an environmental impact statement is needed. These improvements include 4 miles of concrete rip-rap and 12 miles of clearing and snagging of upper Jones Creek and its tributaries, 1.5 miles of channel enlargement and 6.5 miles of clearing and snagging of Beaver Bayou, and 4 miles of channel enlargement and 10 miles of clearing and snagging of Blackwater Bayou.
The City-Parish hopes to start construction around February 2021.
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