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Operations Manager Michael Brocato talks about a flood-control project at Thursday's St. Mary Levee District board meeting in Franklin.

Levee District board hears about progress on Bayou Chene, Bayou Teche

FRANKLIN — Nearing the end of a year marked by a hurricane and a flood, the St. Mary Levee District staff reported progress Thursday on two big-dollar projects designed to protect St. Mary from both threats.
Contracts have been awarded on the first phase of the Bayou Chene permanent flood control structure, an attempt to prevent the back flooding that made life hard for Stephensville residents this spring and summer.
And bids are due Oct. 24 on a flood gate that would protect the area near Franklin, Garden City and Centerville from flooding in the Charenton Canal.
At Thursday’s district board meeting at the St. Mary Courthouse, consulting engineer APTIM’s Jeffery Pena said contracts have been awarded to Patriot Construction for the first phase of the Bayou Chene work.
Patriot will get $464,000 for clearing and grubbing and $2.9 million for dredging.
The contracts still to be awarded are for a floodwall, a 400-foot gate, and work on Avoca Road and the Tabor Canal.
In all, the project is expected to cost about $80 million. Funding was secured through the state government Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Act.
This year marked the fourth time a barge was sunk in Bayou Chene to protect residents in St. Mary, lower St. Martin and surrounding parishes from flooding when the Atchafalaya River runs high. A barge was used in 1973, 2011, 2016 and this year, with costs running into the millions.
The permanent project is due to be complete in October 2021, Executive Director Tim Matte said.
The Bayou Teche flood gate is expected to cost about $11 million. It would protect the area from storm surge flooding by way of the Charenton Canal.
Matte told the board members that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has committed $4.1 million to the project.
All the permits are in place, Pena said, and pre-bid meetings and site visits were conducted Aug. 8 and Oct. 8.
Once it’s underway, the flood gate is expected to take 240 days to complete. Matte told the commissioners that the flood gate may not be finished by the start of the next hurricane season June 1, but it should be ready by the peak of the season.

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