Baton Rouge officials on Tuesday touted a series of projects to prevent flooding across the parish, emphasizing one that they say will vastly reduce the flood risk in neighborhoods submerged during May floods — although construction on that project won't begin for more than a year. 

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Department of Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford, standing in front of an area of Ward Creek near Siegen Lane that will be widened using federal grants, said during the news conference that the city-parish is working as quickly as possible to implement drainage projects across the city without running afoul of rules that govern federally funded projects. 

“Major drainage projects can never come fast enough and that’s why I continue to fight for even more flood relief in East Baton Rouge Parish,” Broome said.

The project to widen a "choke point" under the Siegen Lane overpass was approved with full funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September 2020. Metro Council is expected to approve the engineering firm selected for the work, Florida-based McKim and Creed, later this month before engineering work and further federal approval will clear the way for construction to begin in late 2022, city-parish spokesman Mark Armstrong said. 

Officials said the $1.8 million project will reduce flood water elevations by as much as 2 feet during a 100-year rain event, such as the storm that flooded Morning Glen, Ottoman Terrace and the Siegen Calais apartments upstream of the project site.

Along with the Ward Creek project, Broome pointed to work that's been done across the city since Metro Council approved $20 million from the American Rescue Plan for drainage projects. More than 360 storm drains have been cleaned, clearing 264 tons of sediment and debris in the three weeks since Metro Council approved the funds.