Walker Suing State Over I-12 Construction That Worsened Flooding
Today the City of Walker begins putting together its lawsuit against the state for the construction of I-12. City officials believe the concrete wall that separates the east and west bound lanes worsened the flooding in the city. Mayor Rick Ramsey says when the interstate was widened to six lanes, the median was taken out and replaced with a concrete wall.
“What they essentially did is they built a seawall on Interstate 12, and they created the largest retention pond probably in the United States,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey says areas that have never flooded before took on three to five feet of water. He says he believes without that wall, the flooding wouldn’t have been nearly as bad. He says they were prepared for a major flood, but not this.
“If we had had that without the man-made obstruction that caused it to artificially crest at 46+ feet instead of the 41 and a half feet, we would not have had the catastrophic flooding that we had,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey says he knows the wall caused the three foot difference in water marks from one side of the interstate to the other, but he is not confident in their ability to win the suit against the state.
“Any case against the state and federal government is not strong. It doesn’t matter what kind of proof, even though we have eyewitness accounts, we have video proof, we have photographic proof,” Ramsey said.
Attorney Joe Bruno filed a similar suit against the Army Corps of Engineers for work they did in St Bernard parish that led to more flooding there after Katrina, but it was unsuccessful because the Corps had immunity. He says Walker could run into a similar problem.
“The City of Walker may be able to without question demonstrate that this is something that caused them the pain. The problem is going to be whether or not the state is immune because they had the discretion to do so,” Bruno said.
The Department of Transportation issued a statement on the case, saying “Considering the unprecedented rainfall in such a short time-frame, it is unlikely that the median barriers in this area can be considered the cause for flooding.”