Trees snapped and fell to the earth as excavators cleared an area in preparation for construction of the Willowridge Levee in Luling. In front of the work crews a crowd of over 100 St. Charles Parish residents and elected officials braved the chilly weather to officially break ground on the levee.
When complete, the structure will protect 364 homes and four miles of public streets.
St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee has been his first priority since being elected in 2008.
“Our economy and vitality depends on us getting protected now and into the future and that is what we are putting in motion today,” he said.
The entire Willowridge levee, which received permit approval in 2011, will be built in five phases and is designed to enclose 27 acres of wetlands near the Davis Pond Diversion canal and another 23 acres of retention area south of the intersection of Willowdale Boulevard and Beaupre Drive.
Wednesday’s groundbreaking signified the beginning of the levee’s first phase, which will consist of clearing and grubbing the right of way and construction of a 5.5-foot-levee berm for two miles from Peterson Canal to an existing berm behind Willowridge Drive. Delta South Construction will perform the work for $5.8 million.
St. Charles Parish Council Chair Julia Fisher-Perrier thanked the numerous public officials on the federal, state and local levels who assisted in bringing the levee to fruition.
“Thank you,” she said. “By continuing to work together we can achieve our goal of a closed 100 year levee system for the entire West Bank of St. Charles Parish.”
Fisher-Perrier reiterated the Parish Council’s commitment to the project.
“We realize that a project of this magnitude is far beyond our capacity as a parish to fully fund. We need the support of the state and federal government and we will do whatever it takes to get it,” she said. “As a parish council our commitment to protecting the over $10.5 billion of property on the West Bank of St. Charles Parish has never been stronger."
After the first phase is completed, the parish will begin construction of a second phase that includes building a pump station and detention pond. The parish has an agreement in place with DOTD to fund the Willowridge pump station for about $5.7 million. The parish will have to pay to build the pump station, but will be reimbursed as construction moves along.
The third phase of the project calls for the construction of a 5.5-foot-levee from Willowridge Drive to Davis Pond. The fourth phase will raise the entire levee to 7 feet and the final phase will fortify the interior of the levee.
St. Pierre ended the ceremony by saying the levee is not just for the current generation, but also for those to come.
“I want you to close your eyes and imagine St. Charles Parish 100 years from now or 200 years from now,” he said. “We know we are not going to be here, but our children and our grandchildren will be here to provide energy products and more to the rest of the nation and preserving our family history and our ties. And it will be because of what we are doing here now today.”
|Current and former St. Charles Parish Council members, along with local state legislators, break ground on the Willowridge Levee in Luling.|