Board member: Denham drainage improvements could be costly

Downstream drainage improvements to keep Eden Church Road from continually going underwater with each moderate rainfall could cost as much as $20 million, a drainage district official said Tuesday night.

Roy Zachary, board member of Livingston Parish Drainage District No. 1, said the $2.2 million road project could end up costing about 10 times more than already has been spent if the answer is making improvements to Dixon Creek.

“And that’s assuming we can legally do it,” he said, noting that such a project would require approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, railroad officials, and state and federal governments.

Eden Church Road — a heavily traveled, 1.3-mile stretch between U.S. 190 and Lockhart Road east of Denham Springs — underwent a redesign in 2012 to resurface the road, widen the lanes, bank an S-curve and add turn lanes onto Lockhart.

Drainage district officials were not consulted about the project until moderate rainfalls led to significant flooding, Zachary said. Then the design engineers, Alvin Fairburn and Associates, asked the district to muck out or clear a couple of drainage laterals to help remove the water.

“We asked for a drainage impact study first, and just like the state, we just looked at the engineers’ numbers,” he said. “The firm said if we dig the ditches out, everything would work. It didn’t.”

A third-party engineer hired to review the road work, Jim Delaune of Burk-Kleinpeter, said Eden Church Road would continue to flood because it was lowered 1.7 feet below the bank-tops of Dixon Creek, leaving little room for sloping drainage from the roadway.

The only solution, Delaune said, would be either to raise the road or to make downstream improvements to the laterals and Dixon Creek, into which the road drainage flows.

Other business coming before the board included:

JUBAN CROSSING: Drainage board members balked at a request from Juban Crossing attorney Scott Crawford to introduce an ordinance increasing sales tax contributions to the long-delayed shopping development.

The board in 2007 pledged 40 percent of its half-cent sales tax within the development district for drainage improvements.

Crawford asked the board Tuesday to consider increasing its commitment to a full 100 percent, in light of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of state funding for the project.

Board members said they needed more time to consider the request, with a few saying they were not inclined to throw any more money at the project knowing other projects would surely follow.