Nikki Buskey / The Houma Courier
HOUMA, La. -- The Bayou Little Caillou floodgate, the centerpiece of connecting the eastern and western sides of Terrebonne's Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee project, is moving forward.
The Terrebonne Levee District Board voted Monday night to advertise for construction bids on the floodgate, estimated to cost about $22 million, said Terrebonne Levee Director Reggie Dupre.
The project will be one of the first to move forward thanks to $95.8 million in bond revenue the Levee Board secured last month. In December, voters approved a 1/2-cent sales tax Levee District officials said was necessary to continue rapid work on the Morganza project. The 28-year tax will raise $330 million for levees. Repayment of the bond debt will span over 25 years.
Morganza is a system of levees and floodgates that protect Terrebonne and parts of Lafourche parishes from storm flooding.
The Little Caillou floodgate will be installed in the bayou about a half-mile south of Bayou Sale Road in Cocodrie where the Levee District's levee work ends. The floodgate was originally planned to be 56 feet wide, but the small opening would have caused water velocity problems, Dupre said. The floodgate is now designed to a width of 110 feet, and it will rise 18 feet above the water.
The Levee District also plans to use the bond money to build levees connecting work in Cocodrie to ongoing levee construction at the Houma Navigation Canal and Bayou Grand Caillou. That will help close the system at the bottom of Lake Boudreaux, which has eroded into a wide and open bay that causes flooding problems for east Houma, Dulac and Chauvin.
“This will provide a closed system for about 75 percent of the parish,” Dupre said.
Parish Councilman Dirk Guidry, who represents Chauvin, said closing off the bottom of Lake Boudreaux will provide a lot of security for Little Caillou and other communities.
“Everyone I talk to is really excited about all the work that's being done,” Guidry said. “Eighty-one percent of our people supported the (Morganza) tax, the highest rate in the parish. I think bayou people understand the need a little differently.”
Guidry said new floodgates in Placid and Bush canals have already made a difference, holding back several feet of water during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
The parish is also preparing to raise the Ward 7 levee to 10 feet, giving additional protection to Chauvin, Guidry said.
“I'm thankful to the Levee District and to Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet, and that the people of this parish had the insight to know that we need this flood protection,” Guidry said. “It's great to see it finally getting done.”