Louisiana Record

Sunday, October 20, 2019

City of Walker proceeds with lawsuit against Louisiana DOTD

By Caleb Murphy | Oct 6, 2016

WALKER — The City of Walker will continue its fight against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for flooding that happened in the city.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of the city states that because the DOTD raised the interstate barriers by five to seven feet, the floodwater was unable to flow across the interstate, as it has in the past. Instead, the floodwater flowed down the interstate into Walker, causing an additional four to seven inches of flooding in the city.

Mayor Rick Ramsey said Walker is continuing with the lawsuit, because the DOTD is refusing to correct the issues raised in the complaint.

“I met with the governor three weeks ago and he made two statements that, frankly, ticked me off,” Ramsey told the Louisiana Record. “The first one was, 'It's my job to build interstates that don't go under water.' And then his second one said, 'And I don't think it's my job to build highways that prevent flooding.' And I told the governor and his entourage that was with him, 'In all due respect, governor, it's your legal obligation to build roads that don't cause flooding.'"

Ramsey said the governor and the DOTD are in denial, as exemplified in their refusal to correct the issues with the interstate.

"It's an ostrich that sticks his head in the sand,” he said. “The worst part of it is, is that their plans are to continue that construction all the way from Mississippi to Baton Rouge and from Baton Rouge to south of New Orleans. They're basically creating dams throughout the state of Louisiana that will not let water flow over through flood plains."

In the case of the City of Walker, Ramsey said the extra flooding was not due to drainage issues within the city.

“Sometime after [the initial flooding] during the hours of the darkness when people had been relieved that they had missed the worst of the flood -- between 10 o'clock and midnight -- a wall of river-sealed water rolled down the interstate from west to east," Ramsey said. "The water changed colors, there was no rain involved and we went up five feet in flood elevation.”

Ramsey said that in 1983, before the recent modifications, the floodwater would flow over the interstate and not cause additional flooding. DOTD has since raised the interstate barriers by five to seven feet in the hope of preventing vehicles from crossing over and head-on collisions occuring, but Ramsey said the execution was faulty.

"Good ideas don't always have good results,” Ramsey said. “They did no additional drainage, no additional outfall, they did not put any openings or breaks in the solid dam.”

Ramsey said that despite what the public may infer, financial gain is not the incentive for the lawsuit, saying the city is not being “money hungry.”

“When I met with the governor, I told him I would drop the suit tomorrow if the state would acknowledge that the interstate barriers exponentially increased the flooding and if they would modify that to bring us back to '83 standards so it didn't happen again," he said. "I got zero response from that, so the lawsuit continues."

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Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development State of Louisiana