MORGAN CITY — The St. Mary Parish Levee District has agreed to install required protection to safeguard the remaining pieces of its flood protection structure in Bayou Chene and passing vessel traffic, which could resume on a limited basis as early as Tuesday.
Jason Kennedy of T. Baker Smith told the St. Mary Levee District Thursday that while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still hasn’t told levee district members that it can install the protection that is needed, levee district officials agreed it was necessary and to proceed with it.
The piece of equipment will protect the remaining pieces and other items left onsite after a barge was removed from the waterway Sunday.
Without a permit, the Corps could tell the district to take the protection piece as well as the remaining items onsite out if they put it in now and allow traffic to pass through the area, which will be limited to a 420-foot wide channel.
The permit for the project is still at Department of Natural Resources awaiting approval. However, state Rep. Sam Jones said DNR Secretary Scott Angelle has expressed support for the local district’s plans.
Because letters of no objection have been received from local navigation interests and Angelle has supported the project, levee board members agreed to unanimously pass a resolution that with conditional approval from the Corps, they can install the protection system, knowing the levee district could be forced to remove it at their own expense.
Levee district officials reasoned it was important to get the navigation channel open — although on a limited basis — because of the economic impact it has for the area.
In the meantime, the Corps has been forwarded a preliminary copy of the permit application, so their engineers can begin reviewing it.
Jones said that he thinks Col. Edward Fleming, commander of the Corps’ New Orleans District, will support the project.
Before that project can be undertaken, the contractor onsite who has removed the barge, Lowland Construction, must finish removing sheet piles at the site.
Depending on what was complete Thursday afternoon, Philip Chauvin Jr. of T. Baker Smith said that project could be done and a survey of the waterway to identify any other items that could cause navigation problems could be complete by Monday.
An opening, although not for marine vessel traffic to be escorted through the area is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. That opening would not mean the channel is officially opened, yet, though. That date has not been determined.
Contractors also are removing and replacing an estimated 13,000 tons of stone as well as 212 sandbags.
The project’s contract calls for work to be complete by Sept. 1, but Chauvin said they are ahead of schedule.
Kennedy also reported that the levee district will be responsible for inspection and repairs of the barge that was placed in the Chene.