Spillway Road repairs behind schedule

Road will likely remain closed for more than a month, forcing school children onto Airline

August 20, 2008 at 9:31 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The amount of time the project had to be advertised for bid, along with a second rise in water levels, has delayed repairs to the Spillway Road.
Shonna Riggs
The amount of time the project had to be advertised for bid, along with a second rise in water levels, has delayed repairs to the Spillway Road.
Buses full of school children are being forced to use the dangerous Airline Highway because the Spillway Road is still closed, though the parish will soon begin work to repair it.

However, because of the amount of culverts that need to be removed and replaced, the St. Charles Parish Public Works Department estimates that the work might take six weeks to complete.

After the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, the road was damaged extensively, and buses that carry 321 students to school had to take Airline Highway for the last month of classes. The St. Charles Parish School Board passed a resolution at the time that urged state and federal agencies to repair the road before the 2008-09 school year began.

That didn’t happen.

“Because of the amount of time these projects have to be advertised for bid, the deadline was pushed back,” Renee Allemand, the parish’s public information officer, said. “The other roadblock was the second rise in river levels after the more recent flooding in Iowa. Because of that, engineering wasn’t able to be completed as quickly as we had hoped.”

Because the road was not repaired when school began on Aug. 13, the school system had to request deputies to help with traffic on Airline.

“We requested deputies in the morning, but we had to add them in the afternoon,” Patrick O’Malley, the schools administrator of ancillary services, said. “We are expecting that to continue until the road is repaired.”

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre originally expected bids to come in between July 25 and July 30. He estimated that the work would take about a week to complete.

The apparent lowest bid for the project, from Boh Brothers, came in on Aug. 14 and was for $489,700. The parish will get $250,000 in funding from the state’s Department of Transportation, which was appropriated in House Bill 1 of this year’s state legislative session. A cooperative endeavor agreement between St. Charles Parish and the D.O.T.D. was approved by the Parish Council during its last meeting.

The parish will have to pay the rest of that total, which is $239,700.

Previous estimates by parish officials were that the work would cost $400,000 to complete.

“The council is planning an 8 a.m., Aug. 29 special meeting to approve this contract,” Rusty Walker, the parish’s chief operating officer, said. “The parish is moving on this ASAP. Boh Brothers is set to begin immediately once the approved contract is filed with the Clerk of Court’s office.”

The road repairs will be the only business taken up at that special meeting. The meeting has to be advertised five days ahead of time by law.

When he proposed his resolution for the School Board, member John “Jay” Robichaux felt that the Army Corps of Engineers should have to help fix the road.

“We were happy to help out New Orleans by opening up the spillway, but now we need that road fixed,” he said.

The Spillway Road is maintained by parish government, although the land that it passes through is federally owned. While the Corps is not paying any of the costs associated with repairing the road, they are supplying some materials.
The work that will be done on the Spillway Road includes pulverizing the existing road and constructing a soil-cement base with asphalt paving the road in certain locations. 74 box culverts will be installed in seven locations along the road over a compacted limestone bed. All concrete box culverts and limestone bedding material will be supplied by the parish per the Corps.

There are 28 areas of the road that need repair, including two major areas where the road is completely washed out. The parish is planning on resurfacing only those damaged areas.
Until the road is repaired, barricades will remain to block traffic. On the parish’s web page, there is a notice that anyone observed traveling on the Spillway Road or tampering with barricades will be ticketed by the Sheriff’s Office.

“People have gone around the barricades, but that doesn’t mean they are going all the way down the Spillway Road,” Capt. Pat Yoes, spokesman for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said. “Most of them are just going into the spillway.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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