(WAFB) - Representative Valarie Hodges met with the Comite River Diversion Canal Task Force, of which she chairs, Wednesday, March 13 to request progress updates on the $343 million project scheduled to be completed by February of 2021.
Hodges announced following the meeting that preliminary work clearing the way for construction of the long-awaited project was moving swiftly. That work includes crews securing property, relocating utilities, planning flood control facilities, and highway and railroad bridges to accommodate construction.
A spokesperson representing Hodges said agencies involved in the project reported the following progress updates:
- American Midstream, who is using directional drilling along Highway 61 for relocating a natural gas pipeline and removing the old pipes is still on site, are running behind schedule due to the wet weather the past couple of weeks.
- Advertisement for the construction design consultant for new bridges on Highways 19 and 67 has closed.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will award the construction contract for the Hwy 61/KCS RR Bridge May 31, 2019.
- Bridge and construction design on Highways 19 and 67 have been advertised and they closed February 28. DOTD is now going through applications so they can begin working on awarding a contract for design.
- About 50 percent of the bridge and construction design on Highway 964 has been completed and a consultant was brought in to finalize those plans.
- Shell and Rockall are coordinating their pipeline relocation since these two pipelines slightly entangle.
Hodges asked for hard dates and deadlines from the CORPS and DOTD as well as explanations for any aspect of the project that hasn’t met the deadline in order to ensure it stays on track to finish by the deadline. Rep. Hodges made quarterly meetings a requirement for the partners involved in the project when she created the Task Force.
“These meetings are to ensure good communication and a sense of urgency to get this project completed timely and efficiently,” Hodges said.
The project consists of a 12-mile-long diversion channel from the Comite River to the Mississippi River that has several segments where additional facilities are to be built. Those include a diversion structure at the Comite River, guide levees, Lilly Bayou control structure, and drop structures at the intersections of the diversion channel with McHugh Road, Bayou Baton Rouge, Cypress Bayou and White Bayou.
Additionally, plans call for low-flow augmentation pumps at the intercepted streams and an earthen closure at Brooks Lake, and clearing and snagging of Bayou Baton Rouge, White Bayou and Cypress Bayou north of the diversion channel that will reduce flooding in those areas.
Hodges and other lawmakers previously noted the Comite Diversion is not an end-all solution to flooding in the capital region. Many of the projects that are finally getting funding were developed after historic flooding in 1983.
The project was fully funded in 2018 after nearly three decades of lobbying,