KENNER, La. - The bike path on top of the Mississippi River on the east bank of Jefferson Parish is well traveled. It is a popular spot to walk, run and ride.
Wednesday, Debbie Owens from Metairie brought her bike to the levee to get a ride in and to take advantage of the beautiful fall afternoon.
"It's a long stretch," said Owens. "You can get up to good speeds and this is my favorite place in town to ride. I feel very safe up here riding by myself. It's well patrolled too."
James Vincent who is staying with family in Kenner says he tries to get up on the levee three to four times a week. "It's nice to have this, just away from traffic and everything, rather than running through city streets with the bike paths," said Vincent. "It's a different thing. I love staying away from traffic as much as I can."
James and Debbie will have to find another spot to run and ride, at least for a while. The levee will soon be a construction zone as the Army Corps of Engineers raises it to the required elevation of 26 feet.
"We've got a two to three foot along the levee here that needs to be raised," said Army Corps spokesman Ken Holder.
"That will take about a two-year process. We'll have sections of the levee closed while we work on it. I think it's important for people to know there will be limited access for the next couple of years."
Work is set to begin around the first of the year. Construction will be done in phases, beginning at either the Orleans Parish or St. Charles Parish line. "It's about ten miles of levee lifts and the idea with getting that done is so that we get the levee back up to the standard that was set by Congress," said Holder.
Because of the close proximity to River Road and the fact that there is no place to safely divert bikers and joggers, there will not be a path along the levee during construction.
"The path was interrupted quite a bit with the construction of the (Huey Long) bridge as well, so I'm already familiar with it," said Owens. "I will suppose find another place to ride, but I'm going to miss the levee."
"It's a beautiful place to run and I'm going to be missing it a little bit when it closes," said Vincent. "Everybody understands that this is used for recreation and we're really sympathetic to that, but we just got to get it to the height it needs to be to do the protection that it needs to do," said Holder. The Corps says work is nearly complete on the Orleans Parish stretch of levee. It is expected to reopen in January.