Residents hear results of Calcasieu Lock feasibility study

By By John Guidroz / American Press

A proposed 75-foot gated structure placed south of the Calcasieu Lock is what Army Corps of Engineers officials believe has

the best chance of being approved by federal lawmakers in an effort to improve navigation at the lock.

Jeff Varisco, project manager for the

Corps’ New Orleans office, presented the findings of a Calcasieu Lock

feasibility study

to residents during a public hearing at the Lake Charles Civic

Center on Tuesday. The meeting is part of a 45-day public and

agency review period required by the National Environmental Policy

Act.

Varisco said navigation delays occur at Calcasieu Lock mainly because it is used to drain the Mermentau Basin during heavy

rainfall. Navigation delays cost the U.S. $5 million to $6 million annually.

“We estimate that 25 percent of the time, the lock is being used for this type of drainage,” he said. “And Calcasieu Lock

is the 10th busiest in the nation.”

The 75-foot gated structure was one of

five alternatives that Corps officials considered in terms of initial

design and engineering

plans. An economic study shows the benefit-to-cost ratio is high

enough that Congress could approve the alternative, according

to Varisco.

“We have pretty high confidence in those first costs,” he said. “Now, they will get further refined because we have to be

more accurate when we go to Congress.”

Varisco said Col. Rick Hansen,

commander of the New Orleans District, will make a decision on the

tentative plan in January.

A feasibility design of that plan will be done through April. A

30-day state, agency and public review period will occur in

May, and the study will wrap up in September.

Residents can submit comments by calling the Corps at 314-331-8459 or emailing CalcasieuLockAdmin@usace.army.mil. The comment

period ends Dec. 2.

• • •

To view the draft report online, visit www.mvn.usace.army.mil. The report is also available at the Calcasieu Public Library,

301 W. Claude St.