The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District announced April 28th it awarded a contract for the construction of 1.8 miles in levee improvements to benefit St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parishes. For the portion of the project dedicated to St. Charles Parish, the Montz area stands to benefit most from this latest contract award for levee protection work.
Matthew Jewell, St. Charles Parish President, said most of the limited hurricane protection the Montz area of St. Charles Parish currently enjoys is by virtue of Airline Highway sitting at a plus six elevation. During Hurricane Ida, Jewell noted the well-travelled roadway proved to be an ineffective flood barrier, as the Montz area experienced water stacking up dangerously high against Airline Highway.
“When this project is complete, you won’t have that happening; it will be much better protection,” Jewell commented regarding the recently awarded contract. “It’s going to bring 100-level year storm risk reduction to our residents in Montz, and over to the folks in Laplace and St. John Parish.”
The contract award, valued at over $22.5 million, was granted to Thibodaux-based contractor Onshore Materials, LLC, who will work to bring levee elevation up to 12.5 feet for the designated 1.8 miles of levee protection areas of the two parishes.
This latest contract award is just one part of a multi-faceted $760 million project called the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Project (WSLP). The goal of the project is to add additional hurricane risk reduction measures for the residents of St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James Parishes.
“It’s really going to strengthen our economy in Southeast Louisiana, because having that protection and stability brings people to this region; it brings industry to this region,” Jewell said.
The WSLP aims to achieve 100-year risk reduction through a variety of structural and non-structural features including levees, floodwalls, and pump stations.
“The Army Corps of Engineers team including our partners – Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Pontchartrain Levee District – are excited to award another construction contract for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction project,” Col. Cullen A. Jones, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District commander, said in a recent press release. “The award of this contract for the system’s easternmost and third highest levee is an important milestone as we continue to gain momentum in the delivery of the WSLP program.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to continue to issue additional levee construction contract awards throughout the summer months of 2023. Parish President Matthew Jewell commented it is likely the project won’t wrap up until at least the 2025 or 2026 timeframe. Regardless of the end date needed to complete the project, Jewell said the WSLP is worth waiting for its completion, as it will provide St. Charles Parish with much needed hurricane protection for many years to come.
“I think this is huge for St. Charles Parish,” Jewell said of the overall West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Project. “St. Charles is better protected then we’ve ever been, and we’re continuing to make progress.”