Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, United States Army Corps. Of Engineers, City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge, and the Amite River Basin Commission held a groundbreaking ceremony to signify the start of construction on the Comite River Diversion Project in East Baton Rouge Parish. Governor John Bel Edwards and DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., were joined by state, local, and federal officials on U.S. 61 in Zachary to commemorate this historic event.
“Today has been a long time coming, and I’m grateful that we have begun to get the important work of protecting this area from future flooding underway,” said Gov. Edwards. “It took a lot of hard work but today’s groundbreaking is an example of local and state lawmakers working alongside our congressional delegation to help provide much-needed relief to those residents living near the Comite. In addition, it will help reduce water levels in other areas that are prone to continuous flooding. I’m excited about getting to this point, and it has energized us to continue fighting for other important flood mitigation projects like this one."
This $353 million project will consist of constructing a 12 mile long diversion channel from the Comite River to the Mississippi River, in addition to guide levees, a control structure at Lilly Bayou, and four drop structures at intersections of the diversion channel at McHugh Road, Bayou Baton Rouge, Cypress Bayou, and White Bayou. New bridges will be built along LA 964, 19, and 67 where they meet the diversion channel, as well as the reconstruction of the Geaux Geaux Bridge near Zachary.
“It was a battle in Washington to secure the full $353 million in Army Corps funding for this project,” said Senator Cassidy. “It’s been a decades-long process to begin construction, but we will keep working until it is completed. The Comite River Diversion is invaluable to protect Baton Rouge area families from flooding in future storms.”
“This time around – as we re-break ground on Comite – it is not a drill, or a hope and a prayer. The logjam that prevented this project from construction for decades has been completely broken after we helped secure full funding for it last Congress, and people across the Capital Region are going to get the best flood protection we’ve ever had. This time is for real because of the partnership and cooperation between federal, state and local government to make this project a priority, knowing that it will protect life and property and save money – that’s the way that government is supposed to work,” said Congressman Graves.
"The Comite Diversion Canal has languished on the drawing board for decades rather than protecting people’s homes. I’m grateful for the ways that local, state, and federal policymakers were able to work together to finally get to this day," Congressman Cedric Richmond said. After years of false starts, today’s groundbreaking is a true groundbreaking as funding exists to complete the entire project. Comite will help many people protect their property, but it alone does not solve our flood protection issues. I will continue working with all stakeholders until everyone in Louisiana receives the flood protection they deserve."
“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony was a historic moment for Louisiana. Officials have been working tirelessly for years to receive funding for this vital diversion canal, and with the help of critical partners, we are finally able to begin construction. Thousands of residents and many businesses are affected by the Comite River, and with this project, they will see much relief during heavy rainfalls as water is diverted away from the surrounding areas,” said Secretary Wilson.
Preliminary work began in February 2019 and construction is estimated to be completed summer 2021, weather dependent.