Jefferson Parish officials break ground on new pumping stations near Veterans Boulevard

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:50 PM CDT
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METAIRIE, La. (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish officials broke ground Monday (May 22) on a $17 million drainage project that will include two new pumping stations near Veterans Boulevard and the 17th Street Canal.

“One will sit just south of Veterans, one will sit just north of Veterans, and they’re right here at the 17th Street Canal,” Jefferson Parish councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said. “The pump stations are about 8 feet high. They’ll have a wall around it, so they’ll be screened from view, and landscaped.”

The project near the Jefferson-Orleans parish line aims to address the problem of streets like Lake Avenue in Metairie flooding easily during heavy rain.

“I’ve seen a few cars flood out,” said Michael Barnett, a resident of the area.

The pumping stations will reduce the time and distance for stormwater to clear into Lake Pontchartrain.

“Right now, the water has to drain to Bonnabel and out to the lake,” Van Vrancken said. “So, if the underground pipes are full and water is on the streets, this is the last water to move, as our drainage system is currently designed. These pumps will suck the water off of the streets in this area and put it directly into the canal.”

Jefferson Parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng used the represent the area when she served on the council.

“Whenever it would rain hard, I would drive behind Dorignac’s, because I knew that was a problem area,” she said. “I would drive down Lake, I knew that was a problem area. I would go to Severn, I would go to Metairie Road.”

Angela DeSoto, director of Jefferson Parish’s Engineering Department, said the two pumps will be able to move water quickly.

“The combination of the two can empty an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 15 minutes, so you’re looking at four Olympic swimming pools per hour when both stations are running,” she said.

Some of the 17th Street Canal floodwall will be removed as part of the construction.

“Both north and south, and reconstructing that wall which takes a significant amount of coordination with the (Army Corps of Engineers),” DeSoto said.

When water starts rising on neighborhood streets, it can be an anxious time for homeowners who fear it might get into their residences.

“What we hope is that major drainage improvements like this will protect our homes, our families, our businesses,” Van Vrancken said. “And we hope -- ultimately -- it will help with the rates that we’re seeing for flood insurance.”

Construction is expected to begin in June and last about 20 months.

The parish has other drainage improvements planned in the area.

“We hope to move forward with a similar pump station at the end of West Esplanade, and that will improve the Bucktown area drainage,” Van Vrancken said. “That one right now is in Corps permitting.”

Barnett said he looks forward to better drainage.

“I think it’s a good idea, because I’ve lived here for 30-plus years and every time there’s a big rain, the streets flood,” he said.

The pumping stations are being funded with parish government dollars.

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