Bayou Chene work to start this fall

Now that funding is officially secured for the Bayou Chene Flood Control and Diversion Project, work is about to start rolling. The first phase will start in the fall and second phase should go to bid before the year’s end.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has committed to funding the permanent Bayou Chene floodgate project through money the state is set to receive through the federal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.

Gov. John Bel Edwards visited Morgan City two weeks ago to formally announce the state’s commitment to fund the work that’s intended to prevent backwater flooding along the Atchafalaya River in parts of six parishes.

Project Engineer Jeff Pena of APTIM discussed the project Thursday during a St. Mary Levee District Commission meeting. The commission adopted a revised schedule for the project.

In July or August, $50 million will become available for the Bayou Chene project. Another $20 million will be ready to use on the project by August 2020. Then, by August 2021, the final $5 million becomes available, Pena said.

The first phase of work should go to bid in late June or early July and then start construction in early September, Pena said. That phase involves dredging 85,000 cubic yards from Tabor Canal in Terrebonne Parish and using that material to build up a levee.

A receiving structure will be installed in Bayou Chene during the project’s second phase, which is expected to go to bid in December. If there’s enough funding ready, officials may include the barge floodgate in the bid. But, if not, they’ll bid the floodgate in the third phase by July 2020, Pena said.

Once the project is complete, officials will be able to close the 405-foot wide floodgate when the Atchafalaya reaches 7 feet at Morgan City and is forecast to continue rising. Authorities say the structure should protect the region up to a 20-foot river stage in Morgan City.

Phase four consists of raising the road on Avoca Island, constructing a berm levee from the road to the north side of the structure and finishing work along Tabor Canal, Pena said.

Levee district officials installed temporary flood protection structures in 2011 and 2016 to prevent potential regional flooding.

However, despite the high water so far this year and an 8.3-foot crest in mid-March, there doesn’t appear to be any need for a temporary closure of Bayou Chene in the coming months.

“The gauges north of us have all crested and are all dropping,” Levee District Executive Director Tim Matte said.

No additional projected crests on the Atchafalaya River have been reported in any forecasts, Matte said. The river stage was at 7.6 feet as of Friday morning and has been above the 6-foot flood stage for about three months.

“It’s been a long duration, and it looks like it’s going to last a good while,” he said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the commission authorized the district to purchase mitigation relating to the Bayou Teche Flood Protection Project and to advertise project bids upon receipt of the modified permit and agreements on land rights.

Project officials planned to submit a design for the Bayou Teche project Friday. Work should go to bid in May, Pena said.

That project is meant to prevent flooding along Bayou Teche from the Franklin area to Centerville and consists of building a receiving structure, floodgate on Bayou Teche at its junction with Charenton Canal and levees to keep floodwaters from going around the structure.

In other business, the commission

—Approved signing the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire for audit purposes.

—Declared substantial completion of the Todd Levee rehab project.

—Authorized submission of a grant application through the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trail Program to help pay for a portion of a bike trail in Morgan City.

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