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Construction underway on Bayou Chene floodgate

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Posted at 10:09 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 11:09:26-05

Construction is well underway on a permanent floodgate on Bayou Chene below Morgan City.

District 21 State Senator Bret Allain (R-Franklin), a longtime proponent and advocate for the project, tells us he's pleased to see the progress that has been made thus far.

“I am thrilled to see this project coming to life,” Allain said. “For decades, we have fought to provide protection for the residents and businesses of six parishes. It was a long road, but we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

When the Morganza Control Structure is opened during high water events, water is diverted from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya Basin. This causes backwater flooding throughout the region, threatening thousands of Louisiana homes and businesses. Mitigating this threat has been a top priority, he says.

Funding for the project was announced in March 2019. However, before the project could begin, another high-water event triggered the emergency sinking of a barge, a temporary structure that was also used in 1973, 2011, and 2016.

“In the past, we’ve been able to protect the area by sinking barges. While this approach has been successful, it is costly and provides only a short-term solution. The historic flooding events and years of high-water have proven how necessary a permanent structure truly is. Together with state and local officials, we have been able to secure a plan and funding for putting one in place, the results of which are now tangible,” Allain says.

Officials from the St. Mary Parish Levee District and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, who are overseeing construction of the automated barge floodgate, have confirmed that each of the project’s four phases is underway and the project is expected to reach completion later this year. Once the project is completed, community meetings will be held in the affected areas.

Phases IA and IB, which involved clearing land and dredging, are complete. Phase II, which constitutes a bulk of the construction, is about 55% complete and expected to be finished in August. Phase III, the construction and installation of a floating barge, is in progress and expected to be done in September. And Phase IV, which involves levee work, is also well underway and should be complete in June.