WALKER — Studies needed to identify ways to improve the city's drainage system were OK'd on Nov. 12 by the City Council.

A $200,000 budget amendment will fund an extensive exploration of ways to improve Walker’s drainage system.

Preston Brown of Forte and Tablada, Inc., the city’s engineering consulting firm, told the council that the funds will be used to make detailed topographic and hydrographic studies of the city to determine how drainage can be improved in parts of the city where drainage problems have existed for some time.

Brown said the study, which will be undertaken in the coming months, will afford the city the opportunity to make necessary improvements even as the study is being conducted. He said that engineers plan a three-phase approach to improving drainage in Walker. Brown said that after data from the study is processed, engineers will first deal with what he called “hanging fruit” issues, or items that can be quickly improved.

“We may discover, for instances, that a broken culvert in a certain area is impeding the flow of rainwater. A problems such as that can be quickly corrected by the city’s crews,” he said.

Brown said that in the second phase of the study, such issues as a road possibly blocking drainage or more important obstructions would be examined. He said the findings may show that more challenging changes need to be made and that perhaps those improvement would have to be dealt with by contracting the work to construction companies. In the third phase of the study, Brown said, major issues will be dealt with and solutions explored. “We will run models that will tell us how drainage in one area of the city can affect drainage in another area. This kind of critical analysis will give the city the knowledge it needs to deal with drainage problems that now exist."

Brown said that throughout the course of the study, engineers will have weekly meetings with city officials and quarterly meetings with the public to keep everyone aware of what the study is revealing. “Ultimately, we hope to make significant findings that will improve drainage throughout the community. We promise to update city officials and the public throughout the course of this project,” he said.

Mayor Jimmy Watson said the $2000,000 will come from the city’s 2020 budget. He said the study will be thorough and that it will improve drainage in all areas of the city. “Drainage will always be an issue and we will constantly keep trying to deal with the problems. We will work with the drainage districts, the parish and the state to find solutions to whatever problems we have,” Watson said.

In an unrelated issue dealing with infrastructure, chief of staff Jamie Etheridge reported that work on the Key and Travis streets bridges should start before the end of the year. He said the long-awaited improvements to the two bridges has begun, and the contractors are procuring the materials needed to complete the work. He said that once actual work on the Travis Street bridge starts, the project should be completed in about 60 days.

Another resolution approved by the council authorizes the mayor to submit a grant application for approximately $50,000 that would fund the acquisition of several Sewer Sentry Manhole Devices. Etheridge said the devices will help the city monitor the inflow rates at key strategic locations in the city. The grant will be applied for through the Louisiana Government Assistance Program operated by the Office of Community Development.

In other business, the council approved a resolution that allows the city to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and Livingston Parish regarding improvements at Duff Road. Etheridge said improvements of Duff Road, which is in the city limits, were needed to clear the way for the Foxglove Development, where as many as 300 homes could eventually be developed on parish land. He said the improvements would be made at Burgess Avenue and Duff Road, according to standards set by the Department of Transportation and Development. Etheridge said the parish determined that Duff Road had to be improved following a traffic feasibility study conducted earlier. That study showed the necessity for the Duff Road project. He said the work will be fully funded by the parish.

The council agreed through yet another resolution to adopt a revised policy manual for the Walker Police Department. City Attorney Bobby King said the manual needed to be updated to be aligned with newer policies that have been developed by legal experts in the policing field. He said the updated manual will be “very detailed and will cover a wide range of issues.” King said the revised manual will take into account updated federal and state laws.

“The revision of the city’s police manual is much needed and one of the main reasons for taking a fresh look at updated policies is to lessen the possible liability that the department and the city could possibly face,” King said.

The council approved the appointment of two reserve police officers, Raven Stafford and Donald Tavin, both of Walker. Both have passed the requisite tests required for service with the city’s Police Department.