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Henderson area merchants gathered at Crawfish Town last Wednesday to have questions answered about recent flooding problems caused by the I-10 widening project at the interchange with LA 347/ Grand Point Hwy.(Karl Jeter)

I-10 concerns draw crowd to HAMA meeting

With recent flooding at the I-10 exits affecting their businesses, a meeting of the Henderson Area Merchants Assn. at Crawfish Town restaurant last Wednesday attracted a larger crowd than expected. Along with business owners, Parish President Chester Cedars, Mayor Sherbin Collette and other officials attended.
Featured at the meeting was a question and answer session with representatives of the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and the contractor for the I-10 widening project. The main issue on the merchants’ minds centered on the flooding at the I-10 interchange with LA 347/Grand Point Hwy.
On Dec. 27 and again on Jan. 3, the area between the two new access road roundabouts collected deep water after hard rainfalls. In the first incident, all I-10 on/off ramps had to be closed. Both events resulted in considerable losses for business owners.
Bill Oliver, Lafayette area DOTD district engineer administrator, told the crowd the drainage problems are under study. “Anytime you mess with water flow there can be unforeseen problems. We are looking for the cause of the back-ups to identify what went wrong.”
Oliver added that the finished product will allow much better water flow. Two 18-inch underground conduits are installed in the area under the interstate and when the roadsides are cleared and graded there will also be basins along either side to hold excess run-off.
Occasional flooding has occurred in that area since the construction of I-10. But, residents said, it has never caused traffic-stopping conditions before the surface of LA 347 was lowered where it passes under the I-10 overpass.
New standards require that a 16’ 6” clearance be maintained at all interstate overpasses. The widening project made it necessary to lower the road one foot to comply. Now, with very little slope between that area and the top of the LA 352/Henderson Hwy. drainage ditch, any impediment to water flow can result in flooding.
Oliver explained that such projects are engineered to deal with a
“50-year” flooding
scenario and the new road level was determined to meet that standard.
He said one of the drains became silted with construction fill
and may be the main cause of the problems. “You need to understand,” Oliver said, “what we are doing is not a drainage project, but an interstate project and we aren’t going to be able to solve any long-standing drainage problems. We just have to make sure we haven’t made anything worse.”
He added, “If more steps have to be taken, we will take them. But we have to pinpoint where the problems are. The project is far from complete at this point and we aren’t going to walk away until things are working properly.”

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