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Parish receives millions from state for local projects

Kyle Barnett -   Jul 18, 2013

Funding for the West Bank Hurricane Protection levee, as well as other parish projects, got a boost this year from the state legislature.

The legislature dedicated a little more than $1 million to the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, part of which will begin construction this year.

Sen. Gary Smith (D–Norco) said locking down funding for the levee was just one of several projects in the parish that received assistance from the state.

"I think it was good year considering we had some very tight budget restraints," he said.

Other flood protection projects to receive funding were $2 million that went to the East St. Charles Urban Flood Control Project and $10.8 million for the Pontchartrain Levee District West Shore Hurricane Protection Project on the Mississippi River running throughout St. Charles, Ascension, St. James and St. John parishes.

However, not all funding for hurricane protection passed by the legislature made it through Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.

Jindal used the line-item veto on a project that would have elevated a portion of Airline Highway at the St. Charles and Jefferson Parish line at a cost of $90,000.

Airline Highway was not blocked off during Hurricane Katrina and served as a critical access point for those fleeing the area. However, during Hurricane Isaac in 2012 the roadway was blocked off resulting in limited access.

Smith said the construction of a elevated section of the roadway would make it easier for those in the area to travel during times of crisis.

"Right now when a hurricane comes or flooding comes, Jefferson Parish puts sandbags across their side of the Airline Highway to close in their levee system," he said. "We have determined in working with them that if we raise the highway right there to create a levee that we can drive over, they wouldn’t have to block off Airline Highway and thereby restrict access to our citizens."

In addition to the hurricane protection projects, St. Charles Parish received $3.3 million for improvements to water storage and purification systems, $130,000 for courthouse renovations, $540,000 for the new St. Charles Emergency Operations Center and $500,000 for the St. Charles Community Health Center in Norco.

Although Smith said he would have liked to see the Airline Highway project retain its funding, he feels the parish made out well.

"It was a very good year for District 19 in general and St. Charles Parish," he said.

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