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RESERVE, La. (WGNO)- Breaking ground and turning dirt. This morning, Governor John Bel Edwards, several parish presidents, federal and state leaders gathered for the official groundbreaking of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Flood Damage Risk Reduction project.

The ceremony took place at the Reserve Relief boat launch.

The project stretches across three parishes and will protect tens of thousands of residents in those parishes plus the surrounding areas. Following along the East Bank of the Mississippi River in St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and S. James Parishes in southeast Louisiana is where the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain project is going to be located.

They’re constructing a 100-year level risk-reduction system extending from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to Garyville.
The $760 million project is approximately 18.5 miles in length. It’s going to include 17.5 miles of levee, one mile of T-wall, four pumping stations, two drainage structures, and approximately 35 utility relocations.

During Hurricane Isaac, storm surge inundated approximately 7,000 homes and the interstate was submerged for several days slowing emergency response across the region, which is just one of the many examples of why this project is being constructed.

This project has been years in the making and is no happening thanks to funding by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
Design work began back in late 2019, initial stage contracts were awarded in 2020 and now it’s time to dig in.

Congressman Garret Graves says this area where the project is being built to protect is ‘highly critical’ to the growth of our future nation.

“It’s not a question about whether we protect this area, it’s not a question. It’s how we’re gonna do it because you know what, we can have the greatest businesses, the greatest schools and we can have jobs coming out of our ears. We have the best roads in the country but, if they are underwater it’s useless. It’s absolutely useless. This is fundamental,” said Congressman Garret Graves, U.S. House of Representatives.

The project is expected to be completed by 2024.