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High Mississippi River Halts French Quarter Road Construction

Ashley Dean
The Mississippi River in New Orleans, as seen from Crescent Park. March 19, 2020.

The full reconstruction of the 800 block of St. Ann Street in the French Quarter has come to a halt, the City of New Orleans announced today.

The work stoppage is due to the high level of the Mississippi River a few blocks away, according to a statement from the city’s Department of Public Works.

As the river rises, the Army Corps of Engineers and local levee boards begin taking several precautions to ensure the structural integrity of the river levees. When the level reaches 11 feet at the Carrollton Gage, located on the Army Corps campus in Uptown New Orleans, all subsurface construction must stop within 1,500 feet of the river levees, unless a waiver is granted by the Corps.

Once the river reaches 15 feet at the Carrollton Gage, as it did Wednesday, subsurface construction must stop completely.

According to the release from the city, construction barriers will remain in place, and the street will remain closed to vehicular traffic.

The project was slated to be completed in late June or early July, depending on the weather. Construction may resume when the river level falls below 15 feet. According to the current forecast, that won’t be for more than a month.

The river is currently expected to reach a peak of 16.5 feet on April 11, before slowly receding. The Corps does not currently expect to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which is used as a release valve, to divert flood water into Lake Pontchartrain.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. 

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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