An important parish repair project, proposed as far back as 2008, is set to start in November, although some councilmen have expressed concern over design and funding.
Parish administration and councilmen alike have expressed some worry that the poor state of the bulkhead could eventually cause the road to cave in, shutting down North American Shipyard, a major employer and taxpaying entity in Lafourche.
The Industrial Park Road Bulkhead Project has gone through its design phase and has been advertised. A contractor will be chosen when bids are opened on October 14. Construction is set to begin in November, says Heather Klingman of Duplantis Design Group PC, the engineering firm in charge of the project.
The improvement along Industrial Park Road will consist of a new steel sheet pile bulkhead of approximately 425 feet in length along the northwest corner of the intersection of Bayou Lafourche and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) in Larose. Steel piles will range in length from 35 to 55 feet.
The bulkhead will be backfilled to strengthen the shoulder of Industrial Park Road. Tie-back piles will be driven as an anchor for the wall.
Whether or not the design of the project goes far enough to adequately protect the roadside and repair the worn out bulkhead is one issue which councilmen have debated.
At the September 23rd Parish Council public meeting, Phillip Gouaux, who has been pushing for repair of the bulkhead for over 5 years, questioned the design.
“I have looked at the plans to put new sheet piles against the old piles. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go out further and backfill?” he asked.
Limited funding and concerns over the taking of more water bottom were the reasons for the design. There will be some fill work behind the new sheet piles, with a new 300-foot guard rail in the curve, said Klingman.
Another issue is where the funding for the work will come from.
Parish President Charlotte Randolph has proposed to fund the project out of tax money in the Road Sales Tax District #2 Fund.
When some councilmen expressed opposition to that idea, administration sought a ruling from District Attorney Cam Morvant in April 2012. The DA’s office responded, stating in this case the use of RSTD2 funds is allowable as the repair is “in furtherance of maintaining a public road”.
At Tuesday’s public meeting, Jerry Lafont opposed use of RSTD2 funding, saying it was “deceiving the voters”.
“When we voted on the tax call, it was for roads and drainage. We have since added bridges; now, bulkheads? If we need to fix this (bulkhead), and I am all for fixing it, we should pull the money from the general fund, not from road sales,” he argued.
Councilman Daniel Lorraine, ever protective of RSTD2 money, was also opposed.
“It is not our (RSTD2) responsibility to fix that whole bulkhead,” he stated.
He too wants the money to come from the general fund.
Councilman Phillip Gouaux, in whose district Industrial Park Drive runs, spoke on behalf of getting the job going and not worrying where the money comes from.
“This is a parish road. Go and walk the bulkhead. It is being washed away. You can see the gap. It will affect the road soon and we can’t afford to lose North American,” he said.
After bids are opened and a contractor is chosen next month, the full council will have to approve the project and the funding source.
More debate from councilmen, especially on funding, is expected in October.
Posted on Fri, September 26, 2014
by Buster Avera, Contributing Writer