A plan to get to work on upgrading levees from Alton to the Columbia Bottoms is on track to begin early this year. It is a $151-million project to bring levees from Alton to Columbia back up to the 100-year flood level. The improvements, which got the thumbs-up from the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council in July, could be wrapped up by 2014.
Levees nationwide have been under the microscope since the Hurricane Katrina failure of 2005. The forecast for the spring shows little threat of flooding at this point, which is encouraging, according to Les Sterman, chief supervisor of construction for the Flood Prevention District Council.
The levees have never failed in the 70 years they have been in existence. If the levees are decertified by FEMA, the cost of new insurance premiums across the region could reach an estimated $50-million.