Drainage Board authorizes $500,000 for roadside ditch work; Fate of millage decided today

Grid map of ditches to be addressed

On Monday East Ascension Drainage Board approved an additional $500,000 to an existing $250,000 contract with On Grade Construction to dig roadside ditches.  Confronted with a two-year backlog of work orders, the Board engaged On Grade in September, 18 months after former Drainage Director Bill Roux admitted the backlog.  It came the day before voters will decide the fate of an existing 5-mill property tax funding EA Drainage operations and maintenance.

Four of the seven commissioners present stressed the importance of that tax renewal last night.  Assistant Public Works Director Ron Savoy declared the roadside ditch maintenance program unsustainable without a renewal of the tax which is projected to generate $5.8 million by year’s end.

President Kenny Matassa has already warned of layoffs should voters reject the millage.  15 crews, comprised of 78 parish employees, work in four areas according to Infrastructure Director William Daniel.

  • Four crews focus on roadside ditches
  • Eight maintain Major Drainage Canals
  • Two are assigned to swale ditches
  • One crew sprays waterways to eliminate vegetation

26 maintenance requests were completed by parish crews in October according to Savoy who went on to explain that On Grade was hired to address lengthy stretches of roadside ditch.  Roddy Road was among the first of On Grade’s assignments, about two miles of ditch cleaned and dressed, two culverts replaced for approximately $75,000.  The price is $7/linear foot, plus $2000 for a culvert.

Five smaller subdivision roads ate into the initial $250,000; leaving a balance on the contract of $103,382, enough to keep On Grade working through November.  Then the $500,000 will be available.

After that is anybody’s guess.  Voters on Ascension’s east bank will have their say at the ballot box today.