Next phase of Harahan 'pump to the river' project scheduled to begin

HARAHAN, LA (WVUE) - The next step in a $100 million flood prevention project in Jefferson Parish breaks ground Wednesday morning.

With the next phase comes a four month-long road closure on River Road from Hickory Avenue to Evans Road.

Drivers will face a detour, but as the Jefferson Parish President and Army Corps project manager said, people in the area should expect a big payoff down the line.

"You can walk through them, and I have pictures of them here I can show you," said Rachel Calico, the Army Corps Jefferson Parish SELA project manager.

Calico showed FOX 8 pictures of tubes, each 84-inches in diameter, that will be placed underground as part of a multi-step process to redirect rainwater from the streets of Harahan and River Ridge directly into the Mississippi River.

"So, you've got three of those suckers going into the ground and they're going to flow from the pump station all the way out to the river," said Calico.

Currently, all rainwater is pumped through the canal systems to Lake Pontchartrain, which creates a severe backup that residents have suffered with for decades.

"This came about after the '95 flood. We've been to Washington several times, the goods news now is that it's fully funded," said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

The Army Corps said the total project costs $99 million, but Young said it may be closer $120 million, 65 percent of which is paid by the federal government and the rest by the parish.

It's a project, Young said, that will be so life changing for residents he'd like to see more of them.

"Harahan pump to the river is the first project of its kind ever approved by the Corps. They were resistant initially to pumping to the river, but now that we're moving forward with this project what we'd like to see is two more pump to the rivers," said Young.

The current project is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

"What it's going to do is get the water out of Harahan a lot more efficiently and a lot more quickly," said Calico.

This next step is a crucial connector between the pumping station and canals by the Harahan Playground and the river.

"The reason we're closing the road down is because we have to excavate and get the three pipes put in underneath and get them to come up and over the levee, so that's why the bike path will then be closed," said Calico.

It's a four month inconvenience for drivers, that Young said will create a world of difference for residents in the long-run.

"Yes we will have some street flooding, but we're keeping water out of people's homes and we know that's important because whether they get flooded by storm surge or hurricane or by rainfall, they're not going to come back and rebuild a second time," said Young.

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