NEWS

EA Drainage budget tops $61 million

Wade McIntyre

A capital improvements program that includes seven major projects and expenditures of $61,774,617 through 2012 was approved by the East Ascension Drainage Board Monday.

The budget includes $31.2 million for a pumping station, levee and floodgate for the Henderson Bayou watershed improvements.

A total of $15,245,500 are to be spent for a pump, extra bay and crew quarters at Marvin Braud Pump Station. Another $1,960,770 is budgeted to build an enclosure for worker protection during hurricanes.

The Muddy Creek Road and bridge elevation project to provide access for residents during floods and high water received $5.2 million and is to be built by 2011.

The Laurel Ridge existing levee restoration project, which includes widening the levee base, stabilizing the slope and elevating the top was budgeted $3,761,195.

A total of $1.5 million is budgeted for equalization work under Hwy. 22 north of the Laurel Ridge Levee.

Another $1.5 million is budgeted for Spanish Lake basin improvements pending the completion of a study underway for the Pontchartrain Levee District.

Miscellaneous projects totaling less than $240,000 round out the program budget.

In an unrelated matter, the council declined to adopt a motion submitted by Iberville Parish Council Chairman Eugene Stevens requesting that Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez maintain the Alligator Bayou Floodgate structure in an “open” position except during flooding and hurricane season.

Member George Valentine said he would like resolution where the locks would be put back in place at 4.5 feet and maintained through the summer.

Valentine said he wanted to give Martinez time to try and strike a bargain with Iberville Parish before adopting a resolution.

The board voted to have Martinez meet with the Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso and try to set a water level benchmark in Spanish Lake before shutting the lock gates.  Martinez is to try and negotiate a temporary agreement to keep the locks open until a Pontchartrain Levee District study on Spanish Lake and Bayou Manchac areas is completed.

In other business the council rescinded a previous resolution in which it opposed the designation of Bayou Manchac as a historic and scenic river. Clouatre said the council wanted to make sure that project on the bayou would not be hindered by rigid restrictions that would slow project progress before approving the designation.

Members Adrian Thompson and Benny Johnson were absent from the meeting.