NEWORLEANS- If you live in the lakefront area,you can expect more noise and construction traffic for the next several months.
The Army Corps of Engineers says some of the major 'heavy lifting' is about to start on the three canal permanent pumping stations.
When finished,it will be a whole new way of battling storm surge.
The Army Corps of Engineers marked this as a milestone,the first step in diverting the flow of water out of the 17th Street Canal through a bypass structure. The good news is that they say the building of the permanent pumping structures, at the 17th, Orleans and London Canals, is on schedule. They are due to open for the 2017 hurricane season. Some on the job are optimistic, saying with an aggressive schedule, opening by mid 2016 is possible.
'What's never been done is some of the construction techniques that we are using.Over time, they are going to push sand across the existing canal, drive sheet pile down in there and then excavate out 51 feet. Nobody has ever done this to this depth in this area,' saidLt. Col. Austin Appleton, the Deputy Commander in the New Orleans District of theArmy Corps of Engineers.
T walls using 8,000 tons of sheet metal piles will go deeper than theI walls in the canals that failed in HurricaneKatrina. Laid end to end, they would stretch from the city to Hammond. And these structures meet the surge head on in the lake, not allowing it to move into the red zone,two miles into the canals inside the city as the surge did in Hurricane Katrina.
When these new pumps are working, their capacity would be able to fill an Olympic pool in less thanfour seconds or the entire Superdome with water in less than 90 minutes.
When completed, the pumping capacity will be 25 percent greater than the interim pumps put in right after Katrina in 2006 .
'The last time that they were used was during Hurricane Isaac and if you remember there was very little flooding during Hurricane Isaac,' remembers Appleton.
But the 400 workers havetwo more years of building the $615 millionproject on thethree canals, working 24-hour schedules. So the Corps says expect noise, truck traffic, pile vibrations and lane closures on Lakeshore Drive.
'We do have both noise and vibration monitors and those are checked daily, and whenever something exceeds the limits we've given to the contractor, they have to go back and look to see what caused the vibration of noise that exceed the limit and they have to take corrective actions,' Appleton explained.
The pumping station build earlierbelow Belle Chasse is the largest of its kind in the world. And when the three permanent stations are finished in the city's outflow canals, they will be able to pump even more water.