Proposal Calls for Fortified Levees

Article excerpt

The Army Corps of Engineers is considering new and higher levees along three stretches of the lower River Des Peres.

The levees would be slightly higher than the record flood crest of Aug. 1, 1993, and would protect three areas along the Des Peres, downstream from Morganford Road.

The project would need the city's approval and about $2 million of city funds. Even if the project gets an OK, construction won't begin for four years and will take two years to complete.

Even areas that don't qualify for work by the corps will get better protection. St. Louis city workers have been working for a year to raise levees downstream from Gravois. And the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has begun building a new line of flood-control pump stations.

The Corps of Engineers is proposing building new levees in three areas:

The south bank of the Des Peres from Morganford Road east to Interstate 55. Behind that bank are 200 homes that were spared inundation when a levee at Columbia, Ill., broke on Aug. 1, 1993, ending the Mississippi River's climb in the St. Louis area.

The north bank of the Des Peres between I-55 and Alabama Avenue. That levee protects the Monsanto Co. plant and the Parque Carondelet Apartments. Low spots in that area were flooded on July 11, 1993, when sandbags east of Alabama failed and flooded about 60 homes and other buildings in the old Carondelet neighborhood.

The south bank from South Broadway east toward the Mississippi. That is where the river breached sandbags on July 31, 1993, flooding the Defense Mapping Agency center at 8900 Broadway. The agency still operates a printing plant there, but plans to move to new quarters in Arnold in 1998. The U.S. Air Force owns the property at 8900 Broadway.

The corps is considering raising those stretches of levee to a height equaling 50 feet at the Eads Bridge gauge. The crest on Aug. 1, 1993, was 49.6 feet.

The levee work is estimated to cost about $8 million. The corps is asking the city to pay about 25 percent of that.

In proposing where to build new levees, the corps calculated the value of property to be protected. Doing so leaves out the south bank between I-55 east to Lemay Ferry Road (Alabama on the north side) and the north bank between I-55 west to Gravois Avenue. …