Residents from Lake Borgne to Gentilly and those in New Orleans East, the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish should be able to ease their flood concerns.
The construction of the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal is underway. "It's going to be a very large wall. 26 feet high from one end to the other," says Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant Colonel Victor Zillmer. He decided against retirement to participate in this $700 million dollar project. "This is the Achilles Heel of the entire system. This is where the water from Katrina came up through the Industrial Canal and broke the walls in the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans East and also in New Orleans. This will stop this from happening."
The Navigational Canal is a surge barrier that will be constructed near the Intracoastal Waterway and the MRGO. It will run from the Michoud Canal south to Bayou Bienvenue. Navigation gates that will look like this will be constructed to reduce storm surge coming from Lake Borgne and the Gulf of Mexico .. giving Lake Borgne to Gentilly, New Orleans East, the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard [arish 100 year storm protection by 2011.
"This is 700 million dollars, give or take a little change on either side, but in Washington they would say, 'That's change. that's big money out here,'" says Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp. Today, federal and local officials toured the construction site that will create three to five hundred jobs within the next 27 months.
State Chairman for Coastal Activities Garret Graves says, "Just over three years ago, there was 28 feet of water right here. Just over two years ago, Congress directed the Corps to come up with a solution and in one year from today, we're actually going to have protection here."
Is it a fail safe plan?"It is as good as we can possibly make it," says Zillmer.
The project is federally funded, although the state bought the land where the barriers will be built. The Shaw Group was awarded the 695 million dollar project.