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Preliminary levee work to impact Maxwell Road area

Vidalia — A minimum number of residents and motorists on Maxwell Road will be impacted in 2015 when preliminary work to enlarge a levee begins, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer officials said Monday.

Kent Parrish and Rick Shelton, both project managers with the Corps, addressed the Concordia Parish Police Jury Monday evening to provide updates on two projects in the area around Maxwell Road and Louisiana 569.

The project for levee No. 374 will require officials to impact 1.2 miles of Maxwell Road as a seepage berm is installed before expansion work can begin, Shelton said.

“The plan was to try to avoid impacting the road if we could, and we looked at trying to put relief wells in the whole way, but the design preference is to use seepage berms and push the seepage issue as far away from the levee as possible,” Shelton said. “The reason we’re going to impact Maxwell Road is because the number of utilities, properties on the historical register and storage tanks around that area that present limitations and issues.”

Sand boils often occur when water forces its way under levees and displaces the soil, Shelton said.

When a sand boil comes to the surface, a pressure well of sandbags is built around the boil until the water pressure is equalized and stops displacing soil from under the levee.

Shelton said two options to prevent sand boils are seepage berms and wells, with both having the ultimate goal of stopping any material from being displaced.

“What this berm does is makes the water trying to come up have to go further, so the further the pressure it has to dispute that pressure is gone by the time it comes out of the surface,” Shelton said. “The berm doesn’t move water, it dissipates pressure so you can’t move any material because that’s the goal.

“Once we complete the berm work, we would start on the levee enlargement.”

Fifth District Levee Board member Barry Maxwell eased the minds of some jury members by saying only four residents, including himself, would be impacted by the future road work.

Shelton said traffic would be diverted accordingly as the work took place and that the area of road impacted would be replaced after completion.

Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the project was a win-win for the parish.

“We’ll be protecting the levee, and you’ll have more right of the way on the road once it’s done,” Ferrington said. “I think it’s a good investment.”

Shelton requested assistance on receiving road specifications from the police jury to complete final designs on the project. A formal agreement between the Corps and police jury will be brought to the board before work on the project begins.