WALKER, LA (WAFB) - State highway leaders will soon begin looking for builders to widen I-12 and extend the concrete barrier wall. It's the same wall the Walker mayor, Rick Ramsey, blames for flooding the city. He says it's a slap in the face that the state is moving forward without any changes.
"The majority of Walker did not flood from a rainfall event. It flooded from river water being diverted down the interstate by a barricade, put up with federal funds by DOTD," said Ramsey.
Ramsey says The Department of Transportation and Development wants to widen I-12, which includes extending the same concrete wall even farther east. That wall is in the middle of I-12, separating the eastbound lanes from the westbound lanes and so far, it's up all the way to Satsuma, but Ramsey said that wall is what flooded Walker.
"It doesn't take a scientist or a hydrologist to look at the photos to understand that this barrier or barricade greatly enhanced the flooding north of the Interstate 12 in the Walker and Denham Springs area, not to the extent of inches, but feet," said Ramsey.
Now he says the state wants to extend the same wall from Satsuma to two and half miles east near the Livingston exit without any changes or drainage plans.
"I do feel that if they allow this design to continue and it is left for bid, with the same design that caused the flooding in this area, it is more than a slap in the face to this area. It's an insult to the City of Walker and every other person that flooded north of the interstate," said Ramsey.
Mayor Ramsey says the only reason areas like Satsuma, Livingston, and farther east did not flood is because the water was able to go around the wall where it ends in Satsuma.
"Heaven forbid we have another major catastrophic rainfall event and it floods people again north of the interstate and the state did nothing about this barricade or this wall, then their liability shoots through the roof," said Ramsey.
It's why he's asking Governor John Bel Edwards to do something about it. "Governor Edwards, do the right thing, address the issues. You've got people that are hurting from the flood that are worried about the next one that comes through. Modify the interstate construction and make the changes that need to be made," said Ramsey.
The governor's office responded with a statement: