NEW ORLEANS -- Officials broke ground on a $6.2million project that will strengthen storm protection along 3,900 feet of the seawall Lakeshore Drive -- a length of roughly four football fields.
Local residents have seen the pictures of Lakeshore Drive filled with lake water after a Hurricane like Isaac or even when a winter storm blows in and the lake water pounds the seawall and undermines the concrete.
“It hits the dirt behind the seawall, and washes all of that dirt onto Lakeshore Drive, making Lakeshore Drive impassable for weeks and costing tens of thousands of dollars every time to clean up the debris,” said Tim Doody, president of the East Bank Levee Authority.
When the water goes out, it erodes the dirt underneath the seawall. This new project will install vinyl sheet piling to prevent that in the future. The continuous vinyl sheetpile wall will run the length of the project behind the seawall.
“That will prevent the water from penetrating between the monolith joints and also undermining that’s going on from underneath the seawall steps themselves,” said Gerry Gillen, executive director of the Orleans Levee District.
“So we hope that with this project and the two that will come up behind it will arrest the problems presented to us by the lake,” said Doody.
The Lake Pontchartrain seawall first built in 1930 is the first frontal hurricane protection system constructed for the city of New Orleans.
This project funded by the Eastern Flood Protection Authority will also benefit joggers, bike riders, fishers and picnickers who make this a popular recreation spot.
It will improve drainage, add new benches, palms and new lights along the seawall.
“The public is going to be able to access it even during the dark,” said Gillen.
This project is supposed to be finished within a year, and around then the second of the three phases will get underway, also costing about $6 million.