St. Charles Parish received a permit this month to complete construction of the Magnolia Ridge reach of the parish’s West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources gave final approval of the permit, which includes the second lift of an earthen levee, tidal exchange structures and a major pumping station for interior drainage.

With the receipt of this permit, St. Charles Parish now has clearance to construct the entire 8.3-mile stretch of levee between the Davis Diversion and the Sunset tie-in at the Paradis Canal.

“Since we started this endeavor in 2008, I’ve always compared the West Bank Levee to a puzzle, and I’m happy to say that this is one of the final ‘approval’ pieces,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “This is a major milestone, but we’ve still got years of construction ahead.”

About $35 million in grants and local funding has been budgeted in 2014 for planned levee work, with approximately $1.1 million already spent on construction of phase I of the Willowridge reach, soil borings for the Ellington reach and permit fees for the Magnolia Ridge reach. The funds also are being utilized for mitigation, surveying, appraisals, land acquisition, testing and inspection.

Engineering and consulting costs so far in 2014 are approximately $400,000, with $4 million budgeted for that purpose.

Funds not used in 2014 will be rolled over to the 2015 budget for the construction of phases II and III of the Willowridge reach and phase I of the Ellington reach. All three phases are scheduled to be advertised for bids in early 2015.

Phases II and III of the Willowridge reach will include the Willowridge pump station, gap filling in the earthen levee, a gated culvert near the end of Willowridge Drive, two tidal interchange structures and the eastern tie-in levee from Willowridge Drive to the Davis Diversion West Guide Levee, funds permitting. Phase I of the Ellington reach will include an earthen levee with an elevation of 7 feet with gaps along the 3.1-mile reach.

Geotechnical testing is being completed on the Sunset reach, using funding through the Lafourche Basin Levee District.

St. Pierre expressed his thanks to the Parish Council and project consultants Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. and GCR.

The St. Charles Parish West Bank Hurricane Protection project includes an approximately 18.3-mile stretch to be completed directly to the south of Luling, Boutte, Paradis, Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands. The parish continues to seek funding assistance from the federal and state governments to expedite construction.

For more information on the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, photos, maps and video can be found at www.scp westbanklevee.com.