Project to raise Mississippi River levee will close bike path in Jefferson Parish

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)

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About Sarah Drew

Sarah Drew, a member of the Lens' Coastal Desk, covers flood protection agencies around New Orleans. She is a senior at Loyola University majoring in Mass Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Environmental Studies.

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  • James Wilson

    The levee path is a safe and fast way that many bicycle riders use to get from Jefferson to Orleans Parish. The levee path was paid for with Federal (Transportation Enhancement Program) dollars, so in fact, it is not “technically there to enable workers to maintain and inspect the levee”. From the LA DOTD website: “The Transportation Enhancement Program is a Federally funded program administered through LaDOTD. The goal is to work toward building a more balanced transportation system that includes pedestrians and bicyclists as well as the motoring public” So, let’s be clear: It is NOT an access/maintenance road that bicycle riders happen to use – it was specifically funded to establish a safe way to ride your bike to get to and from work.

    It’s time for the Corp and Ms. Campbell to step up and provide a safe alternative for the bike riders who depend on this vital connection.

    James Wilson
    President, Bike Easy

  • NOLALiz

    My dog and I are panting to have the stretch from the ACE to the Fly completed. We have been skulking around open spaces before dawn to let her run her little paws off for a few minutes (yes, I pick up). There will be one happy dog this spring. And I ge my sleep patterns back.