A longtime trouble spot on the levee along Duncan Point on River Road is being prepared for construction work to remedy excessive seepage.
About seven-tenths of a mile of River Road has been closed in front of Farr Park where the levee, road and ditches are being closely monitored by the Pontchartrain Levee District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Farr Park is just south of the intersection of River Road and Brightside Drive.
“This area has been an issue historically,” said Steve Wilson, president of the Pontchartrain Levee District. “Seepage occurs all the time on the levee, but at this particular area in Duncan Point, it was never the magnitude that it is now.”
The area is prone to excessive seepage and sand boils that, if neglected, could lead to “instability or failure of the levee,” said Durund Elvey, senior project manager for the Corps of Engineers.
The road will not be reopened until the river recedes, Wilson said.
He said this allows for unobstructed monitoring of the area, but it also protects drivers from an area that’s still seeing water on the roads.
Work to build a permanent fix for the area is expected to begin in October, Elvey said, at which point the road will be closed again.
The work will include constructing a berm from the base of the levee across River Road that guides the water into Elbow Bayou.
The road will be rebuilt over the berm.
“Gallons of water per minute” seep through that particular area, Wilson said.
He said the area will continue to seep, but controlling the flow ensures that the levee doesn’t remain soggy, which leads to infrastructural weakness.
“Seepage will never go away. There’s no amount of dirt to stop it,” Wilson said. “You can’t seal off Mother Nature.”
Wilson said areas of the levee along river bends tend to have the most problems.
“That’s just the river wanting to go straight and not bend,” he said.
Elvey said the project will be awarded by the corps in September.
He said the estimated cost of the project is worth “millions.”
The portion of the levee was targeted as an area in need of repair in 2008, Wilson said.
But a high-water scare in 2008 delayed the permanent fix and engineers used dirt and clay to serve as a temporary solution.
Wilson said engineers were also delayed in December when the river rose again.
But the most recent flood threat may have expedited the project by about three months, Wilson said.
“Sometimes, for people involved in doing the project, if it’s not out there in your front yard, then it’s not serious,” Wilson said. “It caused everyone around this issue to say, ‘Let’s hurry up, let’s be a little quicker about it.’ ”