$4.436 Million bid accepted for New River improvements; Laurel Ridge Levee project in limbo

New River weir

East Ascension Drainage Board accepted the lowest responsive bid (out of three) for New River Channel Improvements on Monday.  The project had gone through several permutations since February 2017 when H. Davis Cole engineers presented four options to replace the weir located behind Walmart in Gonzales.  B & K Construction’s $4,436,166 bid bested a $10 million offering and another was deemed “no bid” by Councilman Randy Clouatre.

H. Davis Cole also got a $135,200 boost to its existing contract for “Inspection Services” to a “not to exceed” $450,200.

The project calls for removal of the weir behind Walmart on Weber City Rd (just outside Gonzales’ corporate limits), and dredging New River’s 2.7 mile course until it meets Smith Bayou.

1.5 miles of the stream lies within the city where $3.5 million is generated annually toward EA Drainage’s operations.  The project is intended to improve drainage in New River tributaries, like the Bayou Goudine.

Six months ago Infrastructure Division Director William Daniel said the project “will benefit thousands of residents” since the Bayou Goudine drains northwest Ascension as it flows into New River.  Thus, it will benefit Geismar and Dutchtown, even Prairieville.

Project pitched as improvement for 5/6 Council Districts

In other business the saga of Laurel Ridge Levee extension drew fire from St. Amant’s Randy Clouatre who is “ready to go to war” as his 12-year council tenure is coming to a close.  Clouatre has announced he will not seek reelection to District 6 as Qualifying for the October 12 vote began this morning.  Congressman Garret Graves has attempted to broker a peace between Ascension and Livingston parishes after the latter sued to enjoin the levee project.

Graves has touted “regional solutions” as the path forward, holding out $1.237 Billion in HUD funding as the carrot/stick to incentivize cooperation.  President Kenny Matassa described a meeting with Pontchartrain Levee District, which is providing substantial funding for the levee, “they gave us the green light” (whatever that means).

In January the parishes, with Graves on hand, executed a “Memorandum of Understanding” resulting in a stay of those court proceedings.

“We’re going to come to a point where the main points of the mutual agreement…that’s gonna come to an end.  I’m ready to go to court,” Clouatre declared, opining that Livingston has no incentive to “work with us.”