Lakefront Permanent Pump Stations Delayed a Year?

Jun 11, 2008 by

Once more HumidCity is proud to syndicate the emails of engineer Matt McBride, the man who formerly helmed Fix The Pumps.

Dear New Orleanians,

There have been hints coming out of the Corps for quite a while that the permanent pump stations at the lakefront would be delayed even further than their current 2012 completion date. I think I might have found something conclusive that shows that. I could be off, but you never know…

First, take a look at a schedule of projects the Corps showed at a small business contractors’ gathering on April 23rd (go to page 10):

The line for permanent pump stations is somewhat jumbled, showing “pre-award” activities extending into the first quarter of 2009, but also showing construction beginning this fall, the third quarter of 2008. I believe the second line, showing construction, is the one that counts. It would seem that construction is anticipated to last 3.75 years, finishing up before June, 2012. This would be in line with most public statements from the Corps.

However, also in April the Corps placed a listing of all their hurricane protection contracts, including future ones, on their website:

If you scroll to the bottom of page 3, you’ll see the listing for the contract for the permanent pump stations. It is shown as getting awarded in the 3rd calendar quarter of 2009. That would appear to be significantly later – possibly a year after what the other schedule shows. If one assumes the same duration of construction, then a year of delay at the start means a year of delay at the end.

The Corps has publicly promised the permanent pump stations would be done by the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season. However, if the very detailed April 16, 2008 schedule is to be believed, it would appear that:

1) That deadline has been pushed back a year


2) The Corps has figured out how to shave a year off the construction schedule.

There have been other subtle hints that the permanent pump stations might get delayed. They include:

– A solicitation issued last month for cranes at the current floodgates included an option for rental of those cranes through the entire 2012 hurricane season. If the permanent pump stations were to be in place by 2012, there would be no need for those cranes. Here’s the solicitation:

– Also, note Colonel Starkel’s hesitancy at the end of this June 1, 2008 interview on WWL-TV when asked when the permanent pump stations would be finished:

His exact words are “we’re looking about 2012.”

– Completion of the Individual Environmental Report for the stations has been repeatedly delayed, with an April public meeting pushed back to July. An article in the Times-Picayune last week mentioned that the report will be delayed again, likely meaning a further postponement of the July meeting (which was intended to outline the contents of the report).

– The Corps transferred most of the appropriated funds out of the permanent pump station project to pay for the Industrial Canal closure project (that contract was awarded in April). The pump station account is currently nearly empty. The replacement funds are tied up in the Emergency War Supplemental bill now wending its way through Congress. President Bush has vowed to veto that bill for reasons unrelated to the Corps funding. The Corps has said publicly that if they don’t have funds on October 1 of this year, projects (like the pump stations) would definitely get delayed.

– Finally, it took the Corps over a year to award the design-build contract for the Industrial Canal closure project. The permanent pump stations are of the same scale, and the Corps does not appear to have begun the bidding process yet.

All signals point to further delays on this project.

If I’m wrong, then the Corps needs to come out publicly and say with certainty that those stations will be there June 1, 2012. They also need to explain why one of their schedules shows a year difference from another of their schedules.

One has to wonder if the stations will get built at all?

Matt McBride

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