Officials briefed on floodwall project

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Cape Gir-ardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson and Ben Dyer from Sen. Claire McCaskill's office were among officials getting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers briefing on the floodwall repair plan.

The current task is ironing out details, from getting temporary 100-year flood certification from FEMA for the North Main levee to coordinating funding.

In a six-slide presentation, engineer Tamara Atchley laid out key elements of the $9 million project being coordinated by the corps' St. Louis district office.

Atchley said the main priorities include fortifying a retaining wall that, while not part of the floodwall project, does affect its overall stability. A rock berm is being planned to fix the problem.

She said obsolete electronics in pumping stations need to be replaced and a building needs structural work. A culvert junction needs to be renovated and expansion joints between floodwall monoliths will be increased.

At the same time, the corps has decided funding is not available for $50,000 worth of projects, including filling ponding areas on the land side of the floodwall, cleaning and painting or replacing some steel items in the pump station, roof replacement and tuckpointing (repairing cracked mortar joints) for the pump station, and painting the closure gate.

She said the engineering design report is being reviewed by the assistant secretary of the Army's office. It's the last step before the project can be approved, she said.

Doug Leslie, Cape Girar-deau's city manager, told the group the city has agreed to help fund the project and is in the process of dissolving the two levee districts responsible for the floodwall.

He said the move requires court approval and will likely take four to six months.

Some preparation work has already started. Ameren agreed to pay for moving its utility poles to accommodate the floodwall work, a project that's already done, Leslie said.

A plan to create a railroad detour, called a shoofly, was halted, Atchley said, because the grading of the ground in that area is too steep. When the time comes, track just north of Broadway will be removed so drains below can be replaced. During that seven-day project, trains would not use the track, she said.

Emerson said funding from the federal government will likely arrive "in three chunks," beginning with a $2.5 million check this year and similar appropriations over the next two years.

"All of us are anxious to solve this as quickly as we can," Emerson said.

Knudtson said he particularly wants to see safety increased around the floodwall, especially at railroad crossings.

335-6611, extension 127

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