Study: $8.1M Would Pay For Guardrails Along Canals

METAIRIE, LA (AP) — An engineering study finds it would cost at least $100 million to install enough barriers to prevent cars from veering into any of the uncovered drainage canals on the east bank of Jefferson Parish.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas reports the study finds it would cost about $8.1 million to install guardrails next to drainage canals running alongside significant stretches of heavily trafficked Veterans Memorial Boulevard and West Napoleon Avenue, as well as a stretch of West Esplanade Avenue that has been particularly prone to accidents.

         Parish officials must decide how to pay for the barriers and whatever structural work is necessary to accommodate them. Further, they must design the work and put it out for bid, parish Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani said Monday.

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         However, the release of the new study means officials can begin having those discussions, Alikhani and parish Engineering Department Director Mark Drewes said.

         The study makes clear that dealing with all the open canals would be a very expensive proposition. In some spots, widening embankments enough to accommodate guardrails would compromise the canals' drainage capacity, meaning a pricey box culvert would have to be installed.

         Parish Council members Ben Zahn and Jennifer Van Vrancken, whose districts include the east bank's major thoroughfares, said they would be open to allocating some of their discretionary funds to the effort, as well as their districts' shares of $35 million the parish recently pocketed from settling a lawsuit against BP following the 2010 oil spill.

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         Alikhani and Drewes said Parish President Mike Yenni's administration also would look to its own coffers for money to contribute.

         The $150,000 study by Pivotal Engineering, Digital Engineering and ECM Consultants covering the east bank was completed first, partly because that was where Karissa Wise, 6; her mother, Elizabeth Braddock, 32; and firefighter David Yeomans, 33, died in two separate incidents in which their cars plunged into canals in April.

         A similar West Bank study is expected to be completed in coming months, Alikhani and Drewes said.

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