Fix the pumps

Sunday, September 24, 2006

17th Street canal no longer 24/7

Has anyone noticed how work at the 17th Street canal floodgates has turned from an around-the-clock affair to just another 9-5 construction job? I thought we were still in the height of storm season, but the Corps and Boh Brothers seemed to have lost the urgency they claimed to have earlier in the summer, when the press and the government were all over them.

Below is what the site looked like last night. This is from WWL-TV's invaluable Eye On Floodgates web-camera. I check it often, and I can tell you it looks like this every night for about the last month. They shut down around 5:00 every day and everyone goes home. This despite the fact that there are still pumps uninstalled on both sides of the canal, pumps that could conceivably (well, maybe not, but still) keep neighborhoods from flooding if the gates were to drop. There's also tons of electrical and controls work left unfinished. Someone please tell me why this work is somehow less urgent now than earlier this year?

The work priorities have been kind of goofy as well. Despite the deep importance of installing extra pumps on the Orleans side (two pumps) and the Jefferson side (four pumps), the Corps and Boh have instead focused on putting in the hydraulic winches and their framework (you can see that framework and walkway sticking up across the very top of the gates in the picture below). These winches are designed to automatically lower and lift the gates. That's great, and I applaud then for getting them in. But the fact remains they can already do this with cranes, and they haven't even put in the platform for the extra pumps on the Jefferson side of the canal! And the work on the extra pumps on the Orleans side (just two of them, there) has been ridiculously slow as well. They're spent a whole bunch of time putting up access platforms and handrails, but they've only got one pump out of the two in, and it's not even hooked up. The schedule is screwed up. The Corps project managers need to be called on the carpet for this.

Conclusion: the Corps is back to business-as-usual. they've given up doing things quickly, even though they're not even done with the stuff they were supposed to finish on June 1.

The site last night (most of those lights are actually streetlights on the land behind the gates, not on the structure itself):

And tonight:

For reference, this is what the camera sees during the daytime (from this morning):


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