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|Local Corps' projects underway|
Tom Matthews of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Vidalia office outlined local Corps' projects in Concordia last week after deciding against playing an April Fool's Day joke on April 1 while talking to the Vidalia Lions Club.
"I was going to say run for the hills, but decided I better not because people may do that after last year," Matthews said.
A year ago was certainly no joke to Matthews as the river crested at 57 feet last April.
"Last year at this time we had 24-hour patrols of the levees," Matthews said.
Matthews said the forecast is for the Mississippi River to crest at 44 feet on Friday.
"That's 10 feet lower than this time last year," Matthews said. "Right now everything is about where it should be, but we can only look ahead for two weeks. We can't tell what going to happen in May right now."
Matthews said flooding in North Dakota will not affect the lower Mississippi River valley.
"We are not affected by the Red River," he said. "We are affected by the Ohio Valley."
The Corps is doing work around Vidalia raising the levee and installing relief wells.
"It's nice to be doing work in my own neighborhood for a change," Matthews said.
The Corps is currently working on one of three projects for Vidalia.
Right now project 361R is raising the levee six feet just below Bunge and southward about four miles past Whitehall Plantation. They are installing 29 relief wells. That $9 million project is expected to be completed next summer.
The next project will raise the levee six feet at the Riverfront near the RV park to Bunge and near Vidalia Dry Dock and Storage for about two or three miles north of that site. It will also include relief wells. The contract for that contract will be awarded in August, Matthew said.
"Then there will be about 100 miles between Vidalia and Newellton remaining to be raised and that will take place over the next several years," Matthews said.
Matthews said the third project will be to raise the about 2,000 feet of the levee near Scotland Plantation.
"The State of Louisiana will have to relocate portion of Highway 131 because we can't put berms on top of a highway," Matthews said. "The state will begin surveying that this summer and we hold to get started on that project next summer."
The Corps has also added 38,000 tons of stone to the Vidalia Riverfront bank to help stop erosion.
"That's a million dollar project we got from supplemental money," Matthews said.
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