The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing an $86.2 million drainage project in New Orleans. The 42-month contract will provide improved storm water drainage for the Uptown area of the city and reduce the risk of flood damages in a 10-year rainfall event.

The project is being managed by Boh Bros. Construction Co. and involves building 7,200 l-ft of concrete box culvert under the median on Louisiana Ave. The culvert will range from 8 to 16 ft wide and will run from Constance St. to South Claiborne Ave., tying into existing drainage at each end.

When completed, the culvert system will drain the neighborhood downstream to the Napoleon Ave. and the Broad St. pump station, where it will then move to discharge into Lake Pontchartrain. The project is expected to provide some additional drainage capacity in an area that has growing problems with street flooding.

Lorie Wingate, SELA Orleans Project Manager, says one challenge in the project is that extensive utilities lie in the median and require extensive excavation and relocation. Some of the sewer segments are 105 years old and need to be replaced entirely.

"There are all kinds of existing utilities, sewer lines, water lines and things that need to be relocated prior to our construction. The contractor will place new sewer and water lines [along the distance of the culvert]," says Wingate.

Crews are also using "press-in" piles in some of neighborhoods to minimize the impact on fragile historic architecture in some neighborhoods.

The project is one of twenty authorized and funded construction projects in the city of New Orleans under the Southeast Louisiana (SELA) Drainage program. All projects are designed to handle a “10-year event,” which is defined as a rainstorm that has a 10% annual probability of occurrence and equates to roughly 9 in of rain over a 24-hour period.

The project broke ground in July 2014 and is scheduled for completion in spring 2018.