Tie-in work could force closure of River Road

The Army Corps of Engineers is considering elevating River Road on the east side of the Davis Pond Diversion as part of the Western Tie-In levee project. While elevating the road would protect Ama from storm surge, it could also force the closure of River Road for an undetermined amount of time.

To address the situation, the Corps will hold a public meeting on June 9 at Cytec’s Tom Call Pavilion, located at 10800 River Road in Waggaman. An open house will begin at 6 p.m. and the presentation will start at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting was called at the request of Councilman Shelley Tastet, who said he has been questioned about the road’s closure by his constituents.

“Nothing has been set in stone regarding the closure of River Road, and everyone needs to come to the meeting with an open mind,” Tastet said. “We need to listen to what the Corps officials have to say.”

As part of the Western Tie-In, the Corps will have to “tie in” the West Bank and Vicinity hurricane levee with the existing Mississippi River levee. The connection would occur at the Davis Pond Diversion in Ama.

At first, the Corps was considering using a rolling floodgate that would close River Road when a storm approaches. Since that would mean the road would be blocked during hurricane evacuations, the Corps has instead proposed elevating the road to the height of the levee at the crossing.

“If the Corps chooses to elevate River Road, the closure associated with that would of course present a big problem for Ama residents during construction. The Corps should do all in its power to lessen those impacts,”  parish spokeswoman Renee Simpson said. “However, in the long run, elevation is the favored solution because it allows River Road to stay completely open during the run-up to hurricane events.”

If River Road is closed, the only way to get to Ama from the west would be to take Highway 90 and connect to River Road in Avondale. That would create a problem for emergency responders and residents since it adds 10 to 15 minutes to the commute.

“River Road could be closed for three to four weeks if the Corps decides to elevate it, but even one week would cause a big problem. The biggest thing would be the affect it would have on emergency responders because they would have to go all the way down Highway 90,” Tastet said.

It would also pose a problem for school children, as buses would have to take Highway 90 as well.

“If they do decide to close River Road, they would have to make an alternate route that would allow people to get to Ama just as quickly as they can now,” Tastet said.

The Western Tie-In is a 4-mile system of levees and floodwalls that will follow the contour of the Davis Pond Diversion from the Lake Cataouatche levee south of Waggaman to the Mississippi River levee near Ama. The new levee is expected to protect the western end of west Jefferson and Ama from storm surge coming up the Barataria Basin through Lakes Cataouatche and Salvador. It is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The Corps needs the tie-in to close a 4-mile gap in the 66-mile West Bank storm-surge protection system.


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