Article reprinted from Kenner Star October 2017 Edition – “Full access to levee path may not return until spring of 2018”
by Allan Katz
The massive East Jefferson lakefront levee lift project has been slowed by the past summer’s rains and may not be completed until spring of 2018. The project involves two segments of work, the Flood Protection Authority-East’s levee lifting which will be completed in the first week of October 2018 and the Army Corps of Engineers’ armoring of the levees which is expected to be finished in the spring.
Derek Boese, Flood Protection Authority-East Chief Executive Officer, said, “We regret that bad weather has delayed the progress of this vital project. We have received many questions about access to the All-Weather Access Road, commonly known as the bike path, along the lake during the levee lift construction. We know that thousands of East Jefferson residents use the bike path for recreation.
During the levee lift project, the entire levee has become a construction site. Nevertheless, we have maintained some limited access to the bike path to accommodate recreational usage and will continue to do so until the project is completed. At the same time, because of the construction work, we have taken steps to be sure that anyone using the bike path to walk, run or bicycle can do so in safety.”
Boese said that throughout the length of the whole project, recreational users of the bike path will continue to have full access at Williams and Bonnabel boulevards and also at Bucktown. The levee lift project will raise the height of the lakefront levee to 17 feet along the length of the Lake Pontchartrain lakefront. The work is being performed in three sections, in northwest Kenner from the West Return Floodwall to the Duncan Canal to the Suburban Canal, and in northeast Metairie from the Suburban Canal to the 17th Street Canal in Bucktown. Boese said when the levee district completes its levee lift part of the project, which is expected to reach $8 million, the entire length of the levee system will be armored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at full federal expense to make the levee resistant to high winds and torrential rain.
Armoring consists of placing a geotextile grid fabric covered with sod from the top of the levee to the bottom that will make the levee more resilient and prevent erosion. The Corps will also armor the levee by placing concrete at the crossover ramps on the levee at Homestead, east/west Causeway, Severn, Clearview, Erlanger, western Kenner and by each pump station.. “We are asking that recreational users of the levee stay out of the clearly marked construction sites for their own safety,” said Boese. When completed, the lifted levees will mitigate subsidence, account for sea level rise and maintain levee accreditation. Continued compliance with federal accreditation standards will maintain current FEMA flood risk assessments and support stable and possibly lower flood insurance premiums and coverage requirements. Levee lifts performed prior to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ levee armoring project will extend levee life and save an estimated $8 to 10 million in local tax dollars.
Boese added, “We regret the inconvenience that this construction work has imposed on those who use the levee for recreation. We know that walking, running and bicycling on the bike path is traditional and part of our local culture. At the same time, no one should know better than the residents of south Louisiana the importance of safe, secure and will-maintained levees. We all know from experience that the stability of a levee can be a life and death issue for thousands of residents. The work that we are doing to lift the levee and armor it is crucial to having a maximum flood control system along the length of Lake Pontchartrain.”
Detailed maps and project status updates are available at the Flood Protection Authority website at https://floodauthority.org/east-jefferson-lakefront-levee-lift/. Call 833-LIFT-5438 or visit www.floodauthority.org for more information.