EDWARDSVILLE, Il. (KMOX)-The effort to upgrade the metro east’s levees, and help thousands of home and business owners avoid skyrocketing flood insurance rates, has reached another milestone. But several questions still remain
The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council now has a draft plan, involving a combination of designs, and a cost estimate, which Council Executive Les Sterman says just happens to equal the amount they should be able to raise by selling sales tax-backed bonds, $161 million.
But Sterman is still concerned about how long it will take to get permits required by the Corps of Engineers, The Corps has promised to streamline that process, but Sterman isn’t convinced,”It’s still a work in progress. I don’t think we’re satisfied yet that that permitting process will be streamlined as it needs to be to get this project built.”
Sterman says that if all goes well, work could begin early next year and the upgrades completed in 2015. And while weather and the bond markets could delay the project, the permitting process is one he’s especially concerned about, ”We really need to work hard on that aspect, because we don’t want to see any downtime on this project while we’re simply waiting for approvals from an agency in Washington.”
FEMA is expected to release new flood maps, which would increase the number of property owners required to buy flood insurance and greatly increase premiums, sometime next year.
The council has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the issuance of the maps. Illinois lawmakers are pushing legislation in Washington seeking to delay implementation of the maps as long as efforts to improve the levees are underway.
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