By: Patrap , 12:21 AM GMT on June 14, 2013
A big Deal here.
West Bank's $3 billion flood-control ring finished; milestone ceremony planned Monday
Marking a major milestone in the New Orleans area’s flood control improvements, the Army Corps of Engineers said it has finished all permanent structures in the $3-billion ring of levees and floodwalls around the West Bank of Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes. Officials with the corps and other local agencies plan to hold a ceremony Monday to mark completion of the so-called West Bank and Vicinity project.
The 75-mile line of levees, floodwalls, gates and drainage pumps is designed to reduce flood risk on that side of the Mississippi River between Algiers and Ama. The system, which took more than 50 construction contracts to complete, is expected to protect that region from surge associated with a so-called 100-year storm, one with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given storm season.
With the exception of lower Plaquemines Parish, areas on the west bank of the Mississippi River escaped the devastation that came after Hurricane Katrina. But that was because the storm’s trajectory pushed most of the surge to the east bank of the river.
Like the rest of the New Orleans area, the West Bank’s pre-Katrina levees and floodwalls were a system in name only. Wide areas had no levees at all. And widely populated areas had levees and floodwalls that were not up to the 100-year standard.
The West Bank and Vicinity project sought to fix that by raising the height of existing levees, building better floodwalls and closing the gaps in the protection. Just as important, the corps installed the world’s largest pump station, the West Closure Complex at the Harvey Canal, to reduce flood risk.
The corps said the last permanent structure in the system was completed with the recent construction of two monoliths at the Western Tie-In, where the West Bank system connects to the Mississippi River levee at Ama in St. Charles Parish.
From that spot, the system extends southeast through a levee just north of Lake Cataouatche, then snakes its way through a network of levees and floodwalls south of Westwego, Marrero, Harvey and Belle Chasse. There the system connects again to the Mississippi levee at Oakville in Plaquemines Parish.
Monday’s ceremony is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the new U.S. 90 bridge near the Davis Pond guide levee.
Completion of the West Bank's system is the second major milestone this week as the corps nears the final stages in its $14.5 billion overhaul of the region’s flood control system since Katrina. On Friday, the corps and contractor PCCP Constructors will begin construction of permanent pump stations at the mouths of the 17th Street, Orleans and London Avenue canals in New Orleans. That work is likely to cost almost $615 million.
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