Corps of Engineers awards $20M in contracts to fix Birds Point levee

Friday, June 1, 2012
Water flows over the breached section of Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, Mo., on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. (Southeast Missourian file)

ST. LOUIS -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it has awarded $20 million worth of contracts to three firms to repair the Birds Point levee, which was intentionally breached last year to alleviate flooding on the Mississippi River.

"This is the first significant step in restoring the confluence area and the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway from the damages incurred from the historical flood of 2011," Col. Vernie Reichling, the corps' Memphis District commander, said in a news release.

Reichling said other contracts will be awarded this year to repair flood damage near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in Kentucky and Illinois.

The repair work announced Thursday was awarded to Young's General Contracting, of Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Kingridge Enterprises Inc. of Little Rock, Ark.; and Harold Coffey Construction Co. of Hickman, Ky.

Work is also in progress or planned for levees in and around Cairo, Ill., and in Fulton County, Ky.

The corps used explosives to blow the Birds Point levee last spring in part to keep neighboring Cairo from flooding. The tactic lowered the water level on the Mississippi River but inundated 130,000 acres of farmland. Several dozen homes were also flooded.

The corps said the work will restore the levee to its original condition before being blasted.

A lawsuit by more than 140 Southeast Missouri farmers whose land was damaged when the levee was breached is pending in federal court, though a judge earlier in May narrowed its scope.

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