Neighbors worry that construction isn't worth improvements to Industrial Canal

There's big opposition regarding an Army Corps of Engineers' Project aimed at bringing in a new lock in the Industrial Canal. Some residents in the Holy Cross and Bywater neighborhoods say what's there now, needs to be left alone.

NEW ORLEANS - There's big opposition regarding an Army Corps of Engineers' Project aimed at bringing in a new lock in the Industrial Canal. Some residents in the Holy Cross and Bywater neighborhoods say what's there now, needs to be left alone.

Replacing the Industrial Canal Lock, which was built in the 1920's, has been in the works since the 60's.

"The existing lock is well beyond its design life," said spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers, Ricky Boyett. "For example, if some damage were to occur it's so old we can't buy parts for it, we'd have to create parts from scratch to fix it."

The project has since seen changes.

"One of the misconceptions of building it, and it's because we've shifted designs, is there's concern we'd widen the canal," Boyett said. "We will not widen the canal because we'll be able to do what we need to do within the size that it is."

Now, the Corps says they have a tentative plan.

"What we're looking at is replacing another shallow draft lock that's larger and more consistent with the demands of modern navigation," Boyett said.

The task is huge and includes replacing the St. Claude Bridge.

"It's a significant project," he said. "We're looking at $1 billion. While we're constructing (the new bridge), we can create a temporary bridge adjacent to the existing one and then have that in place until we're ready to open the new bridge."

The project is raising some concern from both sides of the river because people say they're worried about the impact construction will have on homes, traffic, and some say they don't like the idea of removing something historic.

"I know people here have a love/hate relationship with the St. Claude Bridge," said resident Gina Phillips. "But I see it as an historic structure and I'd rather it be maintained and preserved as a historic piece of civil engineering."

Between cost and construction, some also are asking if it's even necessary?

"They're both really, really historic things," said concerned resident, John Koeferl. "Here we are, one of the busiest locks in the country, they say, and everyone's waiting to get in. Check it out, it's very peaceful here."

"I certainly don't want to live next to a 13-year long construction project right in front of my house so I hope it doesn't go forward," Phillips said.

Even though the Army Corps of Engineers has a tentatively selected plan they say, there's no start date yet because according to them, it's still a work in progress. Right now, they're looking at the project's environmental impacts, whoever once they feel like they can move forward, it'll go to the Chief of Engineers and then ultimately to Congress to authorize.

"We want to get everyone's comments and we want to make sure we're making the right decision based on the right information," Boyett said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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