Laurel Ridge Levee extension bids received, parish looks to 2023

Staff Report

During the Ascension Parish Council meeting held Dec. 15 in Gonzales, Parish President Clint Cointment said in his report the bid opening for the Laurel Ridge Levee extension was held earlier in the day.

He reported three bids were received and the Pontchartrain Levee District, a partner agency in the levee, would review the bids initially at its finance meeting before moving on to its board meeting.

"We're thrilled to finally be at the point to reward this project, within budget, and we'll be bringing this chosen contractor to the EAD (East Ascension Drainage) meeting in January of 2023," Cointment said.

Ascension Parish Councilman Chase Melancon, who serves as chairman of the East Ascension Drainage Board, is shown with Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment in a file photo from an event last year.

The president also wished everyone, including the staff and parish residents, a joyful holiday season, as the meeting was the last of the year. Regular meetings are held the first Thursday of the month in Donaldsonville, and the third Thursday in Gonzales.

"We're looking forward to 2023 and have continued to prepare and plan to make even more strides in industry, education, transportation, and drainage improvements, just to name a few," Cointment said.

The nearly five-mile levee extension along the eastern ridge of Ascension Parish from the St. Amant area to the Lake area, is expected to break ground in the first quarter of the year.

The plan has been a long time in the making. In fact, it's been nearly 39 years since parish voters approved a half-cent sales tax to finance the improvement.

The council's youngest member, Chase Melancon, who represents the residents of the area, was not born yet when the decision was made on the new sales tax back in 1984. Melancon carries the baton previously held by his predecessors representing the St. Amant area on the council, which included Randy Clouatre and Jerry Savoy over the past several years.

The parish president's father, the late Willard Cointment Jr., was a prominent land surveyor who pushed for a comprehensive drainage program to address flooding problems. A member of a group of concerned citizens who went by the name the Sandbaggers, he was among the most vocal advocates for drainage improvements, including levees, canals, and pumps to control flooding.

The planned levee extension will be 14 to 17 feet high, which would cover the height of a 100-year flood event.

In other matters during the meeting:

  • The council ratified the appointment of Matthew Didier as utilities director. He previously served as the interim director.
  • The council introduced an ordinance to repeal, establish, and define the new boundaries for the council districts. Every ten years the districts are redrawn due to changes in population as reported in Census figures. Ascension Parish's total of 126,500 people in the 2020 Census jumped from 76,627 in 2000.
  • Chair John Cagnolatti applauded parish personnel's response to the severe weather that passed through Louisiana Dec. 14. The parish was relatively unscathed as Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency amid deadly tornadoes that ripped through the state.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.