Legislator: Bayou Chene project to help with insurance issues
State Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray
Legislators are working to get funding for the estimated $75 million Bayou Chene Flood Control Project in Amelia, which would protect several parishes from flood waters, State Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray, said at Thursday’s St. Mary Levee District commission meeting.
“My four parishes, in particular, it’s very important that we do this,” Harrison said. Harrison represents St. Mary, Terrebonne, Lafourche and Assumption parishes.
St. Mary Levee District Executive Director Tim Matte said the project would also protect St. Martin and Iberia parishes.
The Bayou Chene Flood Control Project, which is located south of the McDermott Yard in Amelia, will consist of a permanent structure that will block Bayou Chene so that flood waters cannot travel from Bayou Chene through Bayou Boeuf to Lake Palourde.
Harrison said officials are moving in the right direction with great leadership from the levee boards. “Our parish presidents, once they see what’s going on here ... they’ll be willing to financially participate in this program because it means a lot to them with their constituents. And the potential of higher insurance costs will offset that very quickly,” Harrison said.
Harrison, who is a former Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board member, owns property in Stephensville and said that property would have gone underwater in May 2011 if the St. Mary Levee District did not install a temporary barge in Bayou Chene. That temporary barge was installed to protect the region from the May 2011 flood.
“This board really took the initiative to go and do what the federal government wasn’t willing to do at the time, and that’s make a decision to put that barge in there,” Harrison said.
The Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District has pledged $500,000 to go toward funding the permanent structure project.
On Thursday, the levee district commission approved an amendment to a CB&I task order for the Bayou Chene Flood Control Project. The amendment included up to $40,000 for modeling along with $58,535 to extend T. Baker Smith’s permitting work and for Miller Engineers to do right of way negotiations with pipeline companies and landowners.
During CB&I’s preliminary report modeling phase, the infrastructure company used a 250-foot wide floodgate, which is the preferred alternative to the already approved 420-foot wide flood gate, CB&I engineer Jeff Peña said.
The floodgate would only be closed during a high water event, Matte said.
The model looked at what having the permanent structure would have done during the May 2011 flood. The water level with the flood gate closed on the protected side would have been about two feet lower if the permanent flood control structure had been in place, Peña said.
The model also forecasted what the difference in water elevation would be during a Project Flood, which is 14 feet for the Atchafalaya River in Morgan City, Peña said. With the 250-foot gate closed, the water would be about 2.2 to 2.3 feet lower on the protected side, he said. The Project Flood is the maximum probable flood the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts could occur and is in excess of the 100-year flood, T. Baker Smith engineer Jason Kennedy said.
The preliminary report has been submitted to the corps in the permit application, and officials are awaiting approval of the application, Peña said. Peña hopes to start preliminary design work in February or March and begin final design of the project in October, he said.
Planning for the project to install a permanent flood control structure in Bayou Chene began in April 2012.
If everything goes according to plan and funding is in place, the project could go out to construction in early 2015, Peña said.
Harrison said looking at “the numbers” will get a lot of people to assist in the project to make it a reality.
“This is economic development. This is where we have to show that in light of the big insurance increases that they’re talking about that we’re willing to protect ourselves,” Harrison said.