Willowridge Levee groundbreaking set for Jan. 22

A groundbreaking for the Willowridge reach of the St. Charles Parish West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 22 at the end of Lafayette Drive in Luling.

The construction of this exciting and much-needed flood control project will be marked with a ceremony featuring guest speakers from both parish and state government. The project is part of the St. Charles Parish West Bank Levee Initiative.

The event is open to the public.Residents in the area recently received information regarding construction timing, speed limits and access to the levee right-of-way.

Trespassing on the right-of-way is prohibited. Violators will be referred to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.Mobilization has already begun, and clearing and grading of land along the levee alignment up to the subdivision’s property boundary directly south of Willowridge and Willowdale will commence soon after.

Once complete, the first phase of the Willowridge Levee will offer 5.5 feet of hurricane and tidal flooding protection from the Peterson Canal (on the western side) to an existing berm behind Willowridge Drive. When all four construction phases are complete, the levee will stand at 7 feet and include the new Willowridge Pump Station, a detention pond and two tidal interchange structures.

The St. Charles Parish West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee is a multi-phase project that encompasses 33 miles from the Davis Diversion West Guide Levee in Luling to a ridge at Highway 308 in Lafourche Parish. This long-term project is split into four reaches within St. Charles Parish – Willowridge (Luling), Ellington (Luling and Boutte), Magnolia Ridge (Boutte) and Sunset (Paradis, Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands).

It will offer flood protection to approximately 25,300 residents and numerous business and industrial sites, including energy and petrochemical producers, on the West Bank. It will also protect U.S. Highway 90, a critical evacuation route for southeast Louisiana residents from multiple parishes.The overall goal of the West Bank Levee Initiative is to design and construct a flood protection system that meets both Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requirements.

This projected $500 million project can only be accomplished with cooperation and funding provided by supporting agencies, including the Lafourche Basin Levee District (LBLD) and Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), in collaboration with St. Charles Parish government. Currently the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Statewide Flood Control Program is funding 70 percent of the total cost of the Willowridge levee and 90 percent of the proposed Willowridge Pump Station. The State of Louisiana Division of Administration, Facility Planning and Control provides additional funding.

To meet that goal – and with the recent transfer of the governing authority of the Sunset Drainage District to St. Charles Parish – all phases are being worked on simultaneously as funding allows. LBLD is currently working with CPRA to have the overall levee alignment included in the state’s Coastal Master Plan, which will open the door for further state funding and BP RESTORE Act funding for the levee. CPRA is in the process of evaluating the hydraulic model of the levee system and preparing a cost / benefit ratio for the project. If CPRA makes a favorable recommendation, the Louisiana Legislature can include funding through the fiscal year 2015 annual plan that the legislature would adopt in its 2014 session.


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