- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The last major endeavor as part of the multibillion-dollar post-Hurricane Katrina upgrades to the region’s flood protection system is halfway complete.

The $644 million construction of permanent pump stations and storm surge gates at the ends of three New Orleans canals is on track to be complete before the start of the 2017 hurricane season, Lt. Col. Austin Appleton, deputy commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District office, said Monday.

The project is meant to protect the city from storm surges and prevent the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals from experiencing floodwall failures during a hurricane.

“This is a big step, but we’ve got a lot more work left on this,” Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett told the New Orleans Advocate (https://bit.ly/1KZWXhE).

The pump stations are replacing the temporary pumps installed after Hurricane Katrina to empty the canals during a storm. The temporary pumps will remain in place until the permanent pumps are ready to take their place.

When complete, each of the Orleans intake structures will be able to suck in 900 cubic feet per second of water, allowing the pumps to remove 2,700 cubic feet per second of rainwater from the canal, The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/1zY4Zql).

When all three are pumping at capacity, they will be able to remove the equivalent of the amount of water held by an Olympic-sized pool every 3.6 seconds.

Upon its completion, the project will be turned over to the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board.

PCCP Constructors, the firm designing and building the project for the Corps, has been working on the project for two years.

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