The nearly 500-foot barge sunk in Bayou Chene in May to protect a five-parish area from the potential backwater flooding has been removed.
The barge, which kept water levels on the protected side more than 2 feet lower than those on the unprotected side, was removed Sunday, as well as seven sheet pile, St. Mary Parish Levee District President Bill Hidalgo told the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District during its monthly meeting Monday.
He said 10,000 tons of rock have been taken out and placed on barges near the site, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to undertake alignment work on the channel.
Hidalgo said work was continuing Monday to remove roughly 88 sheet pile that must be taken out.
The contract for the work is 30 days, but Hidalgo said crews are ahead of schedule.
The levee district is leaving some of the framework set up to support the barge in place, so that if the need should arise to put it in place again quickly, it will be much easier.
Doing so, though, means the channel — which is roughly 1,000 feet wide — will be reduced to 420 feet in width, still 20 feet more than the authorized 400 feet the Corps requires and a width that Hidalgo said marine companies have said they can pass through.
The levee district is awaiting a Corps permit approving the new channel dimension.
Once approved, the area will be marked with signage and lighting for vessels traversing the waterway.
In other action, commissioners:
—Learned from port consultant Mike Knobloch of Knobloch Professional Services that the Port Security Grant Program Fiscal Year 2009 money ($744,984) is available for spending. The grant is a 75/25 (federal/local) cost share. Knobloch also said the “Portwide Risk Management and Mitigation” plan was approved 1½ weeks ago and the port now can submit budgets and investment justifications for projects included within the 2009 port security grant request. Knobloch said he hoped to have all grant proposals to Washington, D.C., for Federal Emergency Management Agency approval by Aug. 19.
—Authorized Clay Breaud of GSE Associates to proceed with plans and specifications to repave the port’s parking lot with concrete. The project budget is $411,000. Breaud also showed commissioners a new map including the port’s boundaries, which were expanded to the eastern bank of the Calumet Cut with recently passed House Bill 208.
—Learned from Phillip Chauvin Jr. of T. Baker Smith in Houma that pilings have been driven for two of the three crane pads at the InterMoor site. He said concrete would be poured for the third pad Friday or Saturday. Chauvin said work is ahead of schedule on the crane pads and on schedule for the bulkhead despite rain delays.
—Learned from Jonathan Coco of Engensus Engineering and Consulting, who has designed the port’s boat dock, that all permitting should be received by the end of next week and bid packets for the project can be complete by this week. He also said work on a real estate agreement for the project could begin this week, too.
—Learned from port Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir that the Mississippi River Commission’s Low Water Inspection tour will be held next week and will stop here at the Berwick docks, north of the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.
—Learned from port Manager of Economic Development Cindy Cutrera that the Corps still is putting in the port’s 2010 tonnage data, and she is working to make sure all of the port’s tonnage from the year is captured. She also reported that she recently completed a three-year course on community development, which she will have a report for at a later date.
—Learned from Hoffpauir that the port received a check from the Economic Development Administration for $307,000. The money will be used for the InterMoor bulkhead project.
—Heard from state Sen. D.A. “Butch” Gautreaux, who thanked the commission for working with him through the years. Because he is term-limited, he is wrapping up his last term of office this fall. Despite his absence from state government, he said he still would be involved in the community.
Absent from Monday were commissioners Joe Jones, Greg Aucoin and Deborah Garber.