Bellingrath Lakes Road Repair to Continue

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By Dave Freneaux

In the Monday called meeting of the City Council, PEC Engineers reported on its findings concerning road repair problems in Bellingrath Lakes subdivision.  Soil samples taken over the past week indicate the need to do more extensive work, adding lime to the soil in the roadbeds in order to continue the work.  The Council voted to approve the additional expense, expected to be near $177,000, giving the roads a better chance of remaining in good condition for at least 7 to 10 years.  The engineers do not feel this measure will give the roads the 10 to 20 year life most roads of this type have, but alternative solutions such as concrete roads or changing the water levels in the lakes are either too costly or can't be done without further study as to how this might affect the foundations of homes.
It is suspected that the level of the water in the lakes throughout the subdivision is causing the premature failure of the roads.  While the Council seemed hesitant to spend tax dollars on less than a permanent solution, the current condition of the roads and the amount of work already done left no other apparent solution.  Discussion by Council members indicated a desire to relieve the current crisis for the residents of Bellingrath Lakes, but emphasized the need to find a long term solution to the problem.


  1. Captain Obvious

    November 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

    The long term solution would be for the city to go after the developer to make him pay for all this and never approve another development by his company in the City of Central.

    Your tax dollars at work Central. Central inherited this problem from EBR Parish DPW by not properly inspecting the work but the ownership falls on the developer. He knew he was cutting corners to maximize his profits. Developer pockets got fat on this development while the pockets of the city have gotten tighter because of it. Thanks to this poor excuse of construction, Central has lost the opportunity to repave other neighborhood roads that so desperately need it.

    Central has lost roughly additional 1180 tons of asphalt at a cost of $150/ton (conservative) with the $177,000 change order. For a 2″ asphalt overlay this would equal roughly 3,900 lf of asphalt overlay. Here are the calculations. Asphalt is usually measured at 115 lbs/sq yd/in thickness. So 1200 tons*2000 lbs=2,360,000 lbs. The formuala is Total Weight(lbs)=Area(sq yd)*Thickness(in)*Weight of Asphalt(lbs/sq yd/in thickness); therefore, 2,360,000 lbs/(2″*115 lbs/sq yd/in)=10,261 sq yd. 10,261 sq yd*9 sq ft/sq yd=92,619 sq. ft. Using 24′ roadwidth this would equal 92,619/24=3,859 lf. This is just asphalt alone.

    I hope the Council members pay attention to this and let this be a lesson learned that no developer should be trusted to do the right thing. I hope Central doing a better job on inspections on all new developments than what was done in the past in our community.

    • dave

      November 23, 2010 at 4:27 pm


      First, I want the right thing done, and if a party is found to have been negligent and legally on the hook, action should be pursued. The only thing I hesitate to do is to judge the developer and the contractors before all of the data is in. One consideration is that EBR inspected and signed off on methods, requirements, etc. If I were a contractor and had met specs I would feel I should be OK. On the other hand, even if the specs were not as good as Central’s, if shortcuts were taken that violated the agreed specs, the parties taking these shortcuts should be held accountable. I would imagine that the Developer as well as the subs who probably performed the work all have insurance behind their work as well.

      I would suggest we first determine why there is a problem, second determine whose actions ultimately caused the problem, then contemplate action. One of my nagging fears is that it may ultimately be found to be simply lax requirements in place under EBR. I am sure the next year or two will tell. Meantime, I am glad we are giving that subdivision some relief, even if it may not last as long as it should. Gives us all some time to figure this out.

  2. Donn Dufour

    November 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Sounds like that bucket has a hole in, just keep filling the bucket mentality.

  3. Ray

    November 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Can someone explain to me how lowering the levels of the ponds or lakes can adversely effect the foundations of homes but benefit the foundation of the roads?

    • dave

      November 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm


      I am not in any way an expert on this, and am only repeating what I have understood at the Council meetings. The concern seems to be that the earth under the foundations has a certain moisture content due to the lake levels. (I think this is actually only a theory right now.) Changing the moisture content of the soil is supposed to cahnge its density and it is feared that under the weight of a home there will be “settling” of the foundation, resulting in cracks. Also bear in mind that these “lakes” are pretty much no more than retention ponds, and are not but a few feet deep as I understand it. Lowering these may result in changing the name to “Bellingrath Canyons”, with dry holes behind homes.

  4. Ray

    November 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I didn’t want to speculate what these lakes really were, but since you brought up “retention ponds”, I will assume that the street/storm drainage dumps into the lakes. The retention ponds are designed to hold a specific depth which creates a nice lake view but causes the street/storm drainage to retain water which collects under the streets saturating the foundation causing sinkage of the roads. The owners of residences on the lakes paid a substantial amount for a lake lot and want their lake views and investments protected. I think the moisture content under home foundation theory is a far stretch to stop any notion of lowering the lakes.

    • dave

      November 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm

      Like I said, I don’t know, just passing on what seemed to be inferred.

  5. Mike Mannino

    November 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Right on with your comments. The danger in lowering the lake is the potential that a quality inspection of the dirt was done is nil. Most likely, that dirt came out of the lake and does not have the right P.I. and compaction. The combination of those 2 could be affect every home in the development if the water table drops. The problem was even noted here in B.R. a few years ago when we had a drought and several stories ran on WAFB showing foundations severerly dropping and cracking and people running water 24/7 around their homes to stop damage.

    Central, which by the way inherited this from EBR, has few options that would not put them in a liability situation. This is the least of the evils.

    I agree with stopping any developers from further work should be the penalty. Look in EBR. The developer of Perkins Rowe is being sued for millions and yet has been approved to develop Rouzon. How can that be ? Besides EBR’s role, how can he possibly get financing ?

  6. Ray

    November 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Its not like the lakes have been there 100 years. The dirt was excavated to form a lake. Soil was moved from one area to another. I still can’t understand why you want moisture under your home but not under the roads. Same soil.

  7. Ray

    November 24, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    ” The danger in lowering the lake is the potential that a quality inspection of dirt was done is nil.” Les Miles has been in town to long. LOL

  8. Mike Mannino

    November 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    There is a science to the dirt under your house. Much more involved than people realize. The moisture in the dirt and how much it is capable of retaining, all plays into this. You would not believe how many tests are performed on major commercial buildings and the approval process for dirt based on its characteristics. I would be willing to bet that because of the proximity to the Amite river, the dirt in Bellingrath, becasue it came from the lake which was probably teh Amite flood basin, is not suitable for a home of the average size in the subdivision. People think they can dig a hole, pile the dirt up, and start building. 15 years later, they wonder why their slab is cracked.

  9. Ray

    November 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I’ve lived in the original Bellingrath since 1990. The roads were cut and the dirt was placed on the lots like most subdivisions around Baton Rouge. What about Magnolia Bend. These subdivisions share property lines with Bellingrath Lakes. The soil content should be pretty consistent throughout these properties. The issue is trapped water under the roads due to poor drainage. The water table has nothing to due with this issue. The lakes were filled by rain water. Not by the water table. Thats why I think the house foundations are a non issue. If you filled the lakes with soil and made a greenspace do you think the foundations would be in jeopardy of failure? I don’t know if this would be a feasible long term solution if it was possible, but could the storm/street drain outlets that dump into the lakes, be connected together with concrete piping, to avoid buoyancy, throughout the lake bottom and piped out of the lakes. The level of the lakes could then be controlled by drains tapped into the top of this piping. The water level would conceal the piping leaving lakes for the residents and the storm drainage would empty, protecting the streets. Personally, I would fight tooth and nail before allowing the lakes to be drained on a permanent basis, if I were a resident, unless I received fair compensation. As far the added $177,000 cost to prep the roads for paving, Bellingrath Lakes residents might pay enough property taxes in a year to cover this cost. I’m glad the work was approved.

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