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New bill focuses on I-12 median that caused major flooding in Livingston Parish in 2016

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - A new bill wants to conduct a study on I-12 and find a solution to some of the drainage issues that caused flooding back in 2016.

The north side of I-12 completely flooded back in 2016 and it didn’t stop there. Because of the interstate’s median, it ended up sending the water into homes.

“It was something I would never want anyone to have to experience again and I know with all of the years that we’ve had drainage problems, floods, whatever, we’ve never had the kind of flooding we had once that wall came up here,” said Mary Ballard.

She has lived in Livingston Parish her whole life but the flood of 2016 took a toll on her family and the rest of the Livingston community.

“When that wall dammed up the water that would normally went on the side of the interstate stayed on this side of the interstate. It affected schools. Some are still being rebuilt. It affected businesses, it affected churches, and it affected households. It affected the core of people who actually work in this community,” added Ballard.

She is mainly referring to the concrete wall in the middle of I-12. It basically acted as a levee that caused major issues for people in the surrounding areas, such as Denham Springs and Walker. Residents and officials blame the I-12 median for the flooding.

HCR 82 by state Rep. Buddy Mincey aims for the Department of Transportation to conduct a drain study on I-12, look into the median that divides the interstate, and find a solution to the problem.

“So, there needs to be a study done, in my opinion, to determine what needs to be done, and then, let’s find a path to get to the funding to do whatever is necessary,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.

Some say placing holes in the median could help but that might destroy the integrity of the wall.

“Based on what we experienced in 2016, holes would not do any good,” said Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry. “Obviously, there would have been some relief, okay, and maybe the water would have drained through quicker, obviously, but for the amount of water that came down out of that river, the absence of the wall entirely would be the only thing that would have helped.”

Originally, the median was built in order to protect drivers but officials say it wasn’t designed properly for drainage.

The bill was approved by the House and Senate, so now, it is just waiting for the final approval from the governor.

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