I-10, I-55 flooding prompts road raising plan

State transportation officials are launching a $2.8 million project to raise Interstate 10 near LaPlace and Interstate 55 near Ponchatoula to address flooding issues in those areas.

The work comes about 10 months after I-10 was shut down near LaPlace because of extensive flooding from Hurricane Isaac.

Crews will begin work sometime this summer to raise I-10 at LaPlace about 15 inches at a low point in the roadway, state Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman Lauren Lee said.

The project is expected to be completed in September.

Crews are scheduled in 2015 to begin raising the grade of the I-10 ramps at La. 3188, also known as Belle Terre Boulevard, to prevent flooding.

Officials are currently designing a project to raise a low point at the north end of the I-55 elevated bridge near Ponchatoula. Construction is scheduled for spring 2014.

State Police closed I-10 in both directions for about four days after it took on about 20 inches of flood water caused by Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall late Aug. 28 in Plaquemines Parish.

Lee said I-10 sometimes floods at La. 3188 during significant high tide events, but it doesn’t happened often.

Interstate 55 near Ponchatoula does not have a regular flood pattern, she said.

“These projects are in place to mitigate interstate flooding in these areas and maintain access to major corridors during flood events,” Lee said.

The project on I-10 will begin at the U.S. 51 interchange overpass bridge and proceed about 1,300 feet west, Lee said.

For I-55, the project will extend from about fourth-tenths of a mile north of the low point on the bridge and about one-tenth of a mile south of it.

Crews will work at night to minimize any impact on traffic and at least one lane will be kept open at all times, Lee said.

The project at I-10 near LaPlace will cost about $1.3 million, while raising the grade at the La. 3188 will cost between $500,000 and $1 million, Lee said.

St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom, said she’s pleased DOTD is moving forward with “completion of this interim project.” But, she said, parish officials remain concerned about problems at exit and entrance ramps at Exits 206 and 209, as well as on I-55.

“The West Shore Hurricane Protection System is the ultimate solution for preventing flooding of Interstates 10 and 55, our homes and businesses, and to allowing commerce to continue in Southeast Louisiana,” Robottom said.

The I-55 portion of the DOTD elevation project will carry a price tag between $250,000 to $500,000, bringing the total projected cost for all the flooding projects to a possible $2.8 million.

Federal money will be used to help fund the projects, Lee said.

DOTD also has contracted barrier dam companies to block water if necessary at both locations, Lee said. They will only be used if water does not recede quickly and needs to be pumped out once the projects are complete.

DOTD is studying water flow and movement for the I-10 corridor between the Reserve Relief Canal Bridge and U.S. 51, including the interchange at U.S. 51 and the connection to the I-55 ramps.

The study will identify potential elevating alternatives and an elevated bridge section alternative for 50-year and 100-year storm events, DOTD officials said.

Anyone with questions about the project can visit DOTD’s website at dotd.la.gov or call DOTD at (225) 379-1232 or 1 (877) 4LADOTD (1 (877) 452-3683).