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Corps of Engineers to reinforce part of levee system

MISSISSIPPI DELTA — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spend $3.1 million to reinforce parts of the mainline Mississippi River levee at Lake Albemarle and Buck Chute.

The Vicksburg Post reports that both were places the Corps and state levee officials scrambled to patch sand boils and stop sliding during the Mississippi River flood of 2011.

Thibodaux, La.-based Phylway Construction, LLC, was awarded the contract Aug. 30. Corps spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale said the Corps expects to issue a formal notice to proceed this week. Work is scheduled to take three months.

Crews will build a 1,700-foot berm with 30 relief wells at Buck Chute and a barrier across about 300 feet of weak landside levee at Lake Albemarle. Work at the two spots, about seven miles apart, will be done simultaneously, according to the Corps.

Buck Chute, west of Eagle Lake, forms the southernmost point of the mainline levee system in Mississippi — the most vulnerable point in the levee system in the state due to chronic seepage from the river trying to find a way to its former stem.

Work to build a sand berm and relief wells was scheduled in spring but scrapped when hunters found new sand boils during the river’s first spring rise in March. A two-acre berm was built, minus the wells, and the Muddy Bayou Control Structure was opened to elevate the lake about 12 feet above normal stages to ease water pressure on the levee.

Farther north at Lake Albemarle, about 300 feet of landside levee gave way May 16, three days before the river crested in Vicksburg at 57.1 feet, or 14.1 feet above flood stage, and nine-tenths of a foot higher than the 1927 flood. Five sand boils nearby were found and sealed with about 18,000 tons of sand and rock in the following week.

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