This is not a test: Army Corps to close ‘barge gate,’ a key surge barrier

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close its troublesome “barge gate” on the Lake Borgne Storm Surge Barrier today as it prepares the metro area’s storm protection system in advance of a tropical wave moving into the Gulf. This is the first time the corps has closed it under real-life conditions, with a storm in the Gulf.

Bob Turner, executive director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, said this does not signal the beginning of the complicated task of closing the entire system. A decision on closing the other gaps in the flood protection system won’t happen unless forecasters say storm conditions are 96 hours from impacting the area. Officials need to work that far in advance because the $14.5 billion system has more than 250 openings, from simple storm drains to huge gates for commercial shipping.

The barge gate is the first to be shut because of the complexity of its design and limitations of its motors. It takes nine hours to close.

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