NOLA.com New West Shore Lake Pontchartrain levee could be built by 2023 hurricane season
The 18-mile, $760 million West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee could be under construction by early 2021 and could be completed by mid-2023, in time for that year's hurricane season, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans District office said Monday.
"It's very common for projects to get just a small trickle of funding year after year and to take a very long time to build," said Col. Michael Clancy during a news conference held at the St. John the Baptist Parish community center in LaPlace to formally announce the levee project.
"I'm excited because we no longer need any action from Congress, from the White House. From here on out, we have the money, we have the project," he said.
The levee was authorized by Congress in a 2014 water resources bill, the first step of what can often be a decades-long process for approval and funding of new levee projects. Earlier this year, Congress included the full cost of the levee project in an emergency supplemental appropriation tied to recent hurricanes and floods.
That fast-track Congressional approval and funding is unheard of, said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.
But he said it should become the rule, rather than the exception, for Congressional approval and funding of similar projects nationwide.
Graves pointed out that the West Shore levee project represents only 1 percent of the $100 billion in projects that would be built by the corps that are still awaiting funding by Congress.