Construction to begin on $1.8 billion levee project

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Crews have been getting ready to work on the levees around the Sacramento area and the first stage of construction will start on the east levee of the Sacramento River.

It is right next to thousands of homes and neighbors and most were grateful to see crews are working to prevent their homes from flooding.

Russell Yoshikawa moved to Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood 31 years ago.

“The levee really wasn’t that big of a concern at the time,” he told FOX40.

But after seeing levees compromised across the country, when the Sacramento River rises next to his home so do his worries – and he was not alone.

“Sacramento is the number one urban flood risk in the nation,” said Nikole May, senior project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

It is why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took on a massive project to strengthen the levees.

“This project is to address the seepage, stability, overtopping and erosion concerns associated with the lower American River and the east side of the Sacramento River,” May said.

The $1.8 billion project, funded through federal, state and local partners, is expected to take five years.

In December, crews will work to remove trees and move utilities to prepare for construction.

“We’re going to put a concrete cutoff wall through the middle of the levee to stop the water from going through,” May explained.

The walls will go as deep as 135 feet underground to keep water from spilling out into neighborhoods.

Crews will eventually work to widen the Sacramento Weir and bypass to draw floodwaters away from the city.

“We are working very hard to significantly reduce that risk but the risk will always remain,” May told FOX40.

Neighbors said they were grateful for the flood of work.

“It’s gonna make a safer levee,” said nearby homeowner Mike Burbridge.

“Gives us some comfort knowing the issues are being taken care of,” said local resident Russell Yoshikawa.

The first portion of the project along the east levee is expected to wrap up in 2020. The rest of the improvements will take place between now and 2024.

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