Army Corps. working to raise Mississippi River levee

Published 12:04 am Monday, March 16, 2009

VIDALIA — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is enlarging the Mississippi River levee south of Vidalia.

The four-mile levee enlargement project starts just south of the Bunge grain elevator on Louisiana 131.

Affolter Contracting of Lamarque, Texas, started the southern end of the project last fall, but the Corps recently gave them permission to start on the northern end of the project, Vidalia-area Corps Engineer Tom Matthews said.

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“Now that spring is here and the weather is getting better, we gave them permission to start two operations,” Matthews said.

“They brought in more equipment and are working toward the middle.”

The project is to raise the levee six feet higher than it currently is, and to install 29 relief wells along the levee.

A relief well works to remove water pressure from around a levee, essentially preventing water from seeping under the levee and undermining its foundations.

“We had heavy seepage from the high water last March,” Matthews said.

The work currently under way should be finished by next August, he said.

By August of this year, however, the Corps expects to award a separate contract that will raise the levees surrounding the Vidalia Riverfront.

The contract for that project will have the levee raised from the riverfront south to the Bunge elevator.

The project will also raise the levee for two miles north of the riverfront, starting approximately at the Vidalia Dock and Storage location, Matthews said.

The levee at the riverfront was raised in the mid-1990s.

“We knew about the city’s plans to develop that area, so we went ahead then and raised that area to get out of their way,” Matthews said.