The Advocate: Inside look: How engineers hope to prevent floods if Baton Rouge Zoo moves to Airline


Baton Rouge’s park officials expect to prevent future floods at their hoped-for Baton Rouge Zoo site on Airline Highway by turning the lowest-elevation patches into a series of ponds and undeveloped greenspace that they believe will make the property able to handle intense storms.

BREC and zoo leaders have zeroed in on the Airline Highway Park and state fairgrounds as the site that they hope to use for a new Baton Rouge Zoo. They will ask their board of commissioners on March 22 to agree to relocate the zoo to the Airline site. Board members voted last year to authorize BREC officials to look for a new site for the zoo.

The Airline Highway Park had once been taken off the table as a home for the zoo because the property flooded in August 2016. Parts of the site are beneath FEMA’s base flood elevation for a 100-year flood, which predicts how high water would rise in a flood that has a 1 percent chance of occurring annually. And city-parish modeling from the flood shows that parts of the park nearest to Bayou Manchac and Ward’s Creek received more than 10 feet of floodwaters.

The current zoo off Highway 19 in north Baton Rouge, however, did not flood.

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