Flood-prone Kenner neighborhoods to get drainage improvements

Kenner residents in the Audubon Place and University City subdivision should soon see some relief from their chronic flooding problems thanks to roughly $3 million in drainage and roadway improvements planned for the areas.

Councilman Kent Denapolis announced the improvements in his district last month and said the work should take about three years to complete. The project is divided into three phases and should greatly reduce drainage issues in some of the most flood-plagued areas in Denapolis’ district, he said.

“We have major flooding problems in these sections of Audubon (Place) and University City,” Denapolis told the Kenner City Council.

The improvements will be funded through about $3 million in grants from the state Department of Transportation and Development that Kenner secured through a highly competitive application process. Denapolis said he spent about $50,000 from his discretionary funds to pay for the engineering designs that were part of the application because of how serious he was about securing the funding. To secure the state funding, the city will have to contribute matching funds of 10 percent of the total construction cost.

Councilman Joe Stagni noted that several other council members applied for the same funding, and while Stagni would have liked to see projects completed in his district, he’s happy that Denapolis was successful. He noted that improvements are long overdue in both areas.

“It’s the citizens in that area that are finally going to win out,” Stagni said.

Denapolis said phase one of the project will begin this year and will included roadway and drainage improvements along Galan Drive, Hooper Drive and Maggiore Drive.

It also will include the addition of a larger “outfall” pipe along Millsaps Place. An outfall pipe is the pipe that discharges stormwater into a canal, lake or other collection point, and this pipe will discharge into the canal adjacent to Catahoula Street.

Phase One will affect about 375 homeowners, Denapolis said. The total cost of the project is about $1.1 million, with roughly $881,000 coming from the state, Denapolis said.

Phase Two of the project will make drainage improvements along Millsaps Place from Tulane Drive to Louisiana State Drive and will cost a total of $1.45 million. Phase Three will consist of roadway and drainage improvements along Tulane Drive from Houston Place to Kilgore Place and on Kilgore Place from Tulane Drive to Northwestern Street. That phase is projected to cost slightly less than $1.58 million.

Phases Two and Three are scheduled to begin construction in 2014 and 2015.

Although Kenner has one of the best community ratings in Louisiana through the National Flood Insurance Programs ratings system, the University Park subdivision has long been plagued with flooding problems. The area was devastated during Hurricane Katrina, when residents reported 6 to 8 feet of water in their homes.

A 2010 study by the University of New Orleans found that roughly 70 percent of the homes in the University City subdivision have suffered repetitive losses due to flooding, and 17 percent of homes suffered severe repetitive losses.

The study estimated there are about 3,000 properties in that subdivision alone. New federal guidelines regarding flood insurance take effect this year. They could greatly increase flood insurance premiums in those areas plagued by repetitive losses.