The gist: Moving at a breakneck pace, LCG has dozens of drainage projects in the works. It’s an immense capital program by local government standards, racking up a bill worth well over $100 million.
We mapped the detention and improvement projects included in this presentation packet compiled by LCG and presented to both councils on May 3. The map includes select maintenance projects and breaks the list down by status. Click the dots for project details.
What will they cost?
$106 million is the cost public works officials and consultants reported to the councils in a special joint meeting last week. That includes ongoing and completed maintenance of drainage channels and coulees, improvements to neighborhood and street drainage infrastructure and major construction of detention ponds. That total rises to almost $150 million over the next three years if you include all money earmarked in the 2021 budget.
“This is unprecedented for my time in the city,” Public Works Director Chad Nepveaux told the councils. His office oversees major capital projects. Drainage maintenance is managed by the drainage division.
$60 million in detention ponds
Historically, Lafayette detention projects have been built by private developers. All told, LCG has $60 million committed to detention ponds. About half of that cost is the current phase of the Homewood Regional Detention Project. Here’s how the projects break down:
|🟢 Completed||6||$1 million|
|🟡 In Construction||5||$40 million|
|🔴 In Design||7||$18 million|
Two detention projects face court challenges. Work on Homewood was halted by a district court judge who ruled that LCG illegally expropriated the land for this project. The Lake Farm Road project is budgeted for Phase 2 while its case moves through the courts.
Bayou Vermilion Flood Control is the centerpiece project. At $42 million total, it combines Homewood, the Chappuis Detention Pond, Coulee Ile Des Cannes Detention Pond and the spoil banks removal project.
Homewood is projected to get even bigger. Its complete cost is estimated at $60 million or more and is not included in LCG’s current program. It’s also unclear if the project will provide much benefit.
$37 million in improvements
Lining and widening coulees, upgrading culverts, installing new stormwater drains and other conveyance improvements are the second biggest chunk of work. It’s a grab bag of projects aimed at moving water. It includes the $3.6 million spoil banks removal project on the Vermilion River (also involved in a lawsuit) and the multi-phase expansion of Coulee Ile Des Cannes:
|🟢 Completed||10||$11 million|
|🟡 In Construction||6||$8 million|
|🔴 In Design||10||$17 million|
$9 million in maintenance
Clearing channel debris, flushing out underground drains and building walls round out the $106 million tab. This includes $1 million spent cleaning the Vermilion River but not the full $5 million on hold for spot dredging the river while LCG waits for a permit.
|🟢 Completed||4||$5 million|
|🟡 In Construction||2||$1.6 million|
|🔴 In Design||2||$2.1 million|
How are they paying for all this?
With a mix of funding sources. On the parish side that includes $27 million in state capital outlay funds, $11.8 million in the parish’s regular capital budget, $9.9 million of parish ARPA funds, and $4.7 million of CDBG money. On the city side, while $18.9 million comes from city ARPA funds, about $45 million comes from the city’s general and capital funds.
Is there a plan?
That depends who you ask and how they define a plan. LCG certainly had a method and a process. Engineers selected detention projects from a master list of 90 sites, vetted and whittled down using a heat map and some modeling. LCG has hired a consultant to complete a Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan, which includes developing more sophisticated modeling, revising development regulations and creating a list of priority projects.
“Quite frankly, we’re just getting started,” M-P Josh Guillory told the councils during the May 3 presentation.