New floodgates at Iberville/Ascension parish line tested

The new floodgates in Iberville Parish where it intersects with Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes was tested last week.

“We’re running on schedule,” Parish President Mitchell Ourso said of the project designed to keep another flood event from occurring where Bayou Manchac enters Spanish Lake.

“The contractors showed me the operation of the three gates,” he said, continuing the contracting firm in charge of the project had deliberately been holding water behind the gates to show him how the structure would operate.

“…We opened up two of the three gates 100 percent and the water empties much faster than the old, manual floodgate did,” Ourso said, at least as much as three times faster than the old floodgate and maybe as much as six times faster.

“The original floodgate – built in 1950—was still in place until the construction of the new floodgates was completed,” Ourso said last week.

He said now that the new floodgates have been tested and proven to work, the old gate will be removed and the road construction can be completed.

The floodgate is officially named the Alligator Bayou Floodgate and is located where Iberville, Ascension and East Baton Rouge intersect.

The project is expected to have a price tag of $2.5 million when complete and be funded with monies the parish received from the federal government’s reimbursement to the parish from Hurricane Gustav.

“I was very impressed with how much more water was going through the new floodgates compared to the one that was built in 1950,” Ourso said.

In addition to the immense improvement in the speed of water flow through the new floodgates, there is another very important advancement for the parish – while the nearly 70-year-old floodgate was mechanical and had to be operated manually, the new floodgates “is completely automated and can be triggered by our Office of Emergency Preparedness Center her in Plaquemine,” Ourso said.

In the event of flooding, the new floodgate will allow water to flow into Bayou Manchac and toward Lake Maurepas and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico.

A few finishing touches are left before the new floodgates are completely functional, like the installation of security lights and fencing for public safety and the telemetry, or the electronic connection between the floodgates and the OEP Center, he continued.

“We’ve also got about 100 feet of road that has to be built over that gate,” Ourso said.

After those parts of the project are complete, the parish president said he will order the parish’s risk management personnel and its insurance company will have to evaluate the safety of the new facility, he continued.

“I need to make sure that the safety of the general public and the motoring public are protected as they pass over that gate,” Ourso said.

He said the parish will construct a recreational area on the Iberville Parish side of the gates with a picnic area and a boat ramp to provide access to Alligator Bayou and beyond.