The dispute concerns the shape of the median. The corps is fashioning a crown – meaning the center is higher than the two sides. That’s what was there two years ago when the agency tore up the street for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.Is it all that outrageous, though? Seems like what they're asking the corps to do is tack a water retention feature on to a water removal system. The corps response actually explains this pretty well. You're already spending the money to build a great big underground box culvert, if you don't direct the water into it, what will have been the point?
Opponents want the neutral ground to be flat or even concave. That’s because a crown can rapidly dump water into adjacent streets, adding stress on drainage systems. The other options can slow it down by storing it for a short periods and letting some of it seep into the ground.
The latter design is favored by the Urban Water Plan, part of the green infrastructure initiative the Sewerage & Water Board adopted in 2014.
And for Head, that’s the design she said the corps promised her.
“I’m fit to be tied because for the last seven or eight years I had been promised by the corps the neutral ground would be at most flat, but hopefully more of a swale or a concave to allow retention of some rain,” she said. “Frankly, until yesterday [April 12] when I saw the hills awaiting sod along Napoleon, I believed that the corps was going to do the right thing. “What’s happening now is outrageous.”
-- Quick aside: The article says the culvert is wide enough to fit "three city buses side by side." I'd like to know where this is the case. On lower Napoleon Avenue, it clearly is not.
Anyway, we're already dedicating an entire "Resilience District" in Gentilly to experimentation with Living With Water concepts. Let's not confuse the systemic approach being implemented there with the piecemeal complaint fodder Stacy Head and her friends are working with uptown.