Today: Army Corps of Engineers to explain impact of levee construction around New Orleans region

Today: Army Corps of Engineers to explain impact of levee construction around New Orleans region
July 31, 2009
by Sheila Grissett
The Times-Picayune/

Envision dump trucks hauling 5,100 loads of levee-building clay every day along major highways and even some neighborhood streets in order to service the billions of dollars worth of construction that will be done to improve the New Orleans' region's hurricane protection system over the next two or three years.

Now imagine those dump trunks loaded with clay sharing those same streets and roadways with other vehicles making 355 daily deliveries of steel and concrete to many of the same building sites, which is what Army Corps of Engineers representatives say residents of the five-parish New Orleans area will see by the time levee system construction hits its peak over the next year.

It's a nightmare of a transportation matrix that is just now starting to grow, but will build exponentially as the corps steps up the letting of more than 100 new construction contracts in
Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Plaquemines parishes for improvements that will provide a "100-year" level of protection from hurricane-driven flooding.

In a roundtable with reporters at corps headquarters in New Orleans this morning, agency representatives are expected to explain just how they plan to carry out the corps' pledge to keep the public informed daily of how this work will impact traffic.

Almost 60 miles of hurricane protection levees alone will be under construction in the five parishes during this year's six-month storm season that opened June 1, a number that will only increase during the 2011 season, according to corps estimates.

Levee-building, often referred to as "dirt work", is particularly truck intensive because the process basically involves digging, transporting, sometimes storing and ultimately delivering thousands of tons of dirt, or borrow.

In this instance - building up the system to withstand flooding from the kind of hurricane that has a 1 percent chance of occurring any year - the borrow will be hauled each day by an army of trucks moving back and forth between multiple construction sites and borrow pits throughout south Louisiana and beyond.

At the same time, corps contractors will also be building a record number of new floodwalls and some of the largest pumping stations and closure structures across waterways ever constructed in the United States.

While much of the steel, concrete and rock needed for those massive structures will come in by barge, there will also be thousands of truck deliveries to the construction sites as well, corps representatives have said.
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