MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. – Construction work to repair high-flow damages within the Milton-Freewater levee system was put on hold, due to a temporary lack of available funding.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emergency management officials met today with levee managers from the Milton-Freewater Water Control District to inform them of the change in the construction schedule to repair high-flow scouring on the downstream gabions and riprap of the Nursery Bridge Drop Structure in the Walla Walla River located in Milton Freewater, Oregon. Construction was originally slated to begin in July 2016.
“It is anticipated that the funding will become available in the future, and upon receipt of funds, the Walla Walla District will continue to execute this important project,” said Val Bogdanowitz, Walla Walla District emergency management chief.
“The delay in receiving funding won’t change the basic construction plan,” said Bogdanowitz. “But some environmental permits and rights-of-way will expire at the end of the calendar year and must be applied for again before construction can proceed.”
Under Public Law 84-99, the Corps has authority to provide emergency response/disaster assistance; including rehabilitation of flood control works threatened or destroyed by flood. To be eligible, levees must be active in the Corps’ Levee Rehabilitation Program. The Nursery Bridge drop structure is eligible under this authority for emergency assistance (rehabilitation assistance) from the Corps. The currently planned rehabilitation assistance is not the first for this levee. In 2014, the structure was repaired as a result of damage caused by a high-flow event, which involved construction of a gabion mattress and a steel armor plate on the drop structure. On May 14, 2015, the Milton-Freewater Flood Control District requested assistance from the Corps to repair the structure again as a result of damage caused by a Feb. 9-13, 2015 high-flow event in the Walla Walla River.
Over the past 18 months, the nation has experienced a number of severe storm events. These events have damaged or impaired the function of a number of projects in the PL84-99 program. The total number of projects and the dollar amount needed to repair and restore them exceeds currently available resources. Within its existing limited resources the Corps is funding the highest-priority projects, that is, those with the greatest risk to life safety during this year's remaining flood seasons, and include storm-damaged projects in Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE), Operation and Maintenance (O&M), and the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T).
“Once the FCCE funding becomes available, the Nursery Bridge drop structure repair will again move forward,” said Bogdanowitz. “We remain committed to working with levee sponsors, and doing all we can within program authorities and funding availability to help keep these federally constructed levees working the way they should.”
Release no. 16-051