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Corps of Engineers adamant Comite Diversion Canal will be finished by Dec. ’22

Flood-affected residents are not holding their breath
Work on the Comite River Diversion Canal is taking place off US 61 in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Work on the Comite River Diversion Canal is taking place off US 61 in East Baton Rouge Parish.(WAFB)
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Progress on the Comite River Diversion Canal can be seen from US 61 heading toward the Felicianas but for the homeowners who were affected by the 2016 flood, that progress is not coming fast enough.

The Diversion Canal, a project that took decades to even begin, has since been plagued by delays since its conception. Like a broken record, the Army Corps of Engineers once again delayed its completion date. It is now expected to wrap up by December of 2022.

CLICK HERE for the latest update on the project.

A spokesman with the Corps said all signs point to the project being completed by that date.

“Things are moving along but it is a little more challenging than just digging a hole and letting water run into it,” said Rene Poche with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Poche said two contracts were just awarded to start digging more of the channels that will ultimately connect the Comite River to the Mississippi River.

CLICK HERE for a map of the Comite River Diversion Canal.

According to DOTD, negotiations to relocate utility lines in the path of the canal are ongoing and the state is trying to finalize the purchase of the remaining three tracts of land needed to finish the project.

“It’s being built in pieces and parts along the way in order to optimize the time we have, so it’s not like you start at point a and go to point b and end at the Mississippi River. We’re working everywhere within the limits of the project,” added Poche.

The project is supposed to provide flood protection to thousands of homes and businesses inside the Comite and Amite river basins. It was estimated when the project first got the green light that one to six inches of water protection would be provided.

Now, after decades of delays, homeowners are cautious that the project will actually meet its completion date.

“I’m not sure, based on the work that’s being done, if they can meet the end of the ’22 deadline because there is a lot of work to be done,” said Bob Burns, whose home took on two feet of water in 2016.

Burns said he worries time is running out on the project, saying it is just a matter of time before more catastrophic flooding inundates the area.

“We don’t have time. That canal represents salvation for us, protection for us,” added Burns.

CLICK HERE for more from the Army Corps of Engineers about the project.

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