GONZALES — Drainage officials gave the administrative go-ahead Monday to start work on a $17 million expansion of Ascension Parish’s primary pumping station for the east bank.

Bill Roux, director of drainage in East Ascension, reported to a board that oversees drainage projects that the notice to proceed was issued Monday on the Marvin J. Braud Pumping Station expansion.

Roux told the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 Board of Commissioners that the contractor, Max Foote Construction Co. Inc. of Mandeville, has 450 days to do the work and is expected to finish in October 2012.

“The clock is running, so they’ll really be moving pretty quick from this point,” Roux told the board, which consists of the 10 parish councilmen whose council districts include at least part of the east bank.

One parish councilman does not sit on the drainage board.

Max Foote will add a new pump to the bank of five already at the station in the McElroy swamp, plans show.

Max Foote will also build the housings, or bays, for two pumps. The pumping station drains a 76-square-mile area that includes Gonzales.

Max Foote won the construction contract in April with a low bid of $14.3 million, beating out seven other firms. Total cost, including engineering and wetlands mitigation, is about $17 million, drainage officials have said.

A $65 million, 40-year bond issue backed in 2007 by the drainage board is paying for the expansion, as well as other projects. A half-cent sales tax and a 5-mill property tax levied on the east bank are paying off the bonds.

In other action Monday, the board backed without opposition agreements to share costs of drainage improvements.

Councilman George Valentine was absent for the vote.

Under one agreement, the district will use its employees and equipment to install culverts in a ditch along the north side of a strip mall on Airline Highway where Casa Maria restaurant is located.

Casa Maria’s owner will pay for the material, district documents say. Roux told commissioners the culvert will eliminate ditch maintenance costs.

Under the other agreement, the owner of Powers Trailer Park on Airline Highway will pay to replace a timber bridge to the development. The district will pay for the timber, a board summary says.

Roux said the parish built the original bridge crossing Bayou Francois. The finished replacement bridge will become the landowner’s responsibility, Roux said.