Corps says multimillion dollar project is 30 percent complete - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Corps says multimillion dollar project is 30 percent complete

The Army Corps of Engineers is showing off progress on a $615 million project to harden storm defenses at three major canals.

They've just begun construction of a temporary dam across the 17th Street Canal, which they insist will pose no problems if we have a big storm.

It's the most important drainage artery out of the city, and at 17th Street Canal, hurricane concerns are never far off.

Lt. Col. Austin Appleton with the army corps says, "This pump station will have 12,400 cubic feet per second. The old pump station was 9,000. So we see a 25 percent increase in capacities."

By January 2017, the old temporary pumps will be replaced by a new fortified pump station across the mouth of the canal.

"We're just over the 30 percent complete mark," said Jay Proskovec, with Corps contractor  PCCP.

They are all part of a $615 million project that includes permanent pumps at the Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals.

"Once all three are done, the total capacity will be just over 24,000 cubic feet per second, and when you think about that we can fill an Olympic pool in under 3 seconds, and the Superdome in under 90 minutes," said Appleton.

Corps workers are now placing an earthen dam across the mouth of the 17th Street Canal at the height of hurricane season. This will allow construction on the permanent pumps to begin. But Corps officials say the temporary pumps will stay in place, and pump water out in the event of any flood.

"We've opened up the bypass structure here so that the water will have a free flow out to the lake, so at no time will we be blocking the flow of the canal out," said Proskovec.

Tugs and barges have been a near-constant presence in the lake during construction and have brought out tons of material - including something a bit strange.

"The safe was found a few yards back in the old peninsula," said Proskovec.

That's right - an old safe, found in the mud, and tough to crack

Proskovec said, "it was locked and they had to use a crowbar."

The safe contained a small amount of cash and old coins dating back to the 1960s, and did not delay a project that's turned the old Coconut Beach into a storage area for tons of fill being used for the big job.

"The project is going on very well, we expect it to be complete and turned over by hurricane season 2017," said Appleton.

That puts it behind the original schedule, but Corps engineers say until the permanent structures are finished, the temporary pumps and gates are up to the task of protecting the city.

Corps officials say when it comes to steel, they've used 8,000 tons of steel sheetpile for the construction of the new bypass and pump structures. They say that's 2,000 more tons of steel than was used for the construction of the St Louis arch.

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