Photos (Top) by Larry Hodgson; (Bottom) by Albert Smith

The USACE's mission with the $14-billion LPV 3.2b West Return Floodwall project was to construct the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System as the region recovered from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The project, located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish, consists of a 3-mile-long concrete T-wall on the Jefferson Parish lakefront. It follows the boundary between St. Charles Parish and Jefferson Parish from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to Lake Pontchartrain. Work included raising levees, replacing floodgates and floodwalls and building improvements at four lakefront pump stations to fortify a flood protection system that has evolved over hundreds of years. 

Among the biggest challenges for the project: construction in an area entirely near water, and near residents' backyards. The JV, faced with a big change order four months before the completion date, helped devise unique design and construction methods while working with more than nine 150- to 300-ton cranes in combination with 50 barges contained in a 100-ft-wide canal. The construction fleet left little wiggle room for passing barges.

Construction teams maintained continuous flood protection while designing the new system as hurricane season approached. Storms from the Gulf of Mexico often shut off site access on short notice. Judges lauded the "unique set of challenges, from time-zone differences to language to local building approaches," as well as a deft handling of uncertain financing for the on-time, on-budget project.

Location New Orleans

Project Team

Owner U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Harahan, La.

Lead Design Firm U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

General Contractor Odebrecht Johnson Bros, Joint Venture, New Orleans

Structural-MEP-Civil-Engineer U.S. Army Corps of Engineers