Parish receives $6.8 million for West Bank levee

Hurricane protection for the West Bank of St. Charles Parish is getting ever closer to reality with the announcement of $6,751,717 in Statewide Flood Control Program funds going toward the project over a number of years.

Of that total, $1.1 million will be available during state fiscal year 2011-2012.

The appropriation is the latest step in the parish’s efforts to secure funding for the 10-mile levee, to be built south of Luling and Boutte.

Its price tag is over $100 million.

“We’ve had to be extremely resourceful in finding avenues that will allow us to start work on this project sooner rather than later,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr. said. “We will continue to demonstrate the dire need for protection for our residents and businesses, and our state and national leaders are taking notice.”

Combined with $4.5 million in Priority 3 and $500,000 in Priority 2 State Facility Planning and Control funding, the total state funding secured for the levee project during the latest legislative session is $11,751,717.

Members of the St. Charles Parish Council representing affected areas – Shelley Tastet, Terry Authement and Dennis Nuss – signed a letter supporting the project, with Authement reading it aloud in April at a public hearing of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works.

“Sen. Joel Chaisson and Representatives Gary Smith and Ernest Wooton were instrumental in ensuring we received this levee funding,” St. Pierre said. “We are grateful to have representatives that can effectively go to bat for our needs in Baton Rouge.”

So far this year, the Parish Council has approved $1.5 million to mitigate 66 acres of wetlands for Phase II (Willowridge) of the levee. The parish also received a construction permit for Phase II from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The parish budgeted $17 million for levee work in 2011, and engineering consultants are currently working on permits and mitigation plans for the other two phases, Ellington (Phase III) and partially constructed Magnolia Ridge (Phase I).

Parish officials in May toured the proposed levee site with members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation with hopes of having the project at least partially funded as part of the upcoming federal Water Resources Development Act.


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