The project to raise the levee on the east bank of the Mississippi River will shift to Jefferson Parish soon, closing two stretches of the bike path atop the levee for about a year each.
Because there is no safe place to divert bike traffic, there will not be a temporary path along the levee, Fran Campbell of the East Jefferson Levee District said at a Thursday committee meeting of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.*
No road runs along the length of the levee, so the only option would be to divert bike traffic to Jefferson Highway. “We don’t want to divert people to Jefferson Highway because there’s no bike lane. There’s no safe place to put them,” Campbell said.
Because the path is technically there to enable workers to maintain and inspect the levee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is supervising the project, isn’t allowed to work on alternatives for bikers and joggers, said corps spokesman Ricky Boyett.
According to the levee district and the corps, construction will occur in two sections:
A 4.2-mile stretch from the Orleans Parish line upstream to Crislaur Avenue
A 4.5-mile stretch from Orchard Road upstream to the St. Charles Parish line
The contractor, Hernandez Consulting, could start fencing off one of those sites as early as December, said corps spokesman Ricky Boyett.
Though the project will last about two years, Hernandez will work on one section at a time, Boyett said, so each one will be closed for about a year each.
Once the work is done, the levee will be two to three feet higher, Boyett said.
Construction on the Mississippi River levee in Orleans Parish is already underway. Boyett said the portion of the levee from the Jefferson Parish line downstream to the corps’ New Orleans District office is expected to be completed in January, and the section from the corps’ building to the Audubon Fly should be completed in the spring.
Campbell also said that the project may require that some trees along the levee, including those in people’s backyards, be cut down. She said that a public meeting will likely be held to inform people of the situation.
The committee also discussed a possible Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the East Bank authority and the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District to widen and stabilize a number of canals in St. Bernard Parish, including the Congressmen Hebert, Creely and Bluebird canals, and to upgrade drainage along Palmisano Avenue.
*Correction: This post originally misstated the name of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. (Nov. 13, 2013)