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Levee reopens in Baton Rouge; spillway bays closing

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.S. Army Corps closes some bays at spillway above New Orleans
  • Levee partially reopens in Baton Rouge
  • That section is popular with pedestrians, bicyclists

(CNN) -- Pedestrians and bicyclists were allowed back on a Mississippi River levee in Baton Rouge, one of two developments Saturday that showed the flooding crisis in Louisiana was easing.

Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden closed the levee May 13 because record high water was expected during the height of the flood, CNN affiliate WBRZ reported.

Since the river began falling, crews have been removing sandbags. The downtown portion reopened Saturday; another section will be back in business next week.

"I think it's a big part of downtown Baton Rouge," Rachel Brignac said of the levee. "There's not a whole lot of places to hang out and have a good time."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was to begin closing 30 of 330 bays at the Bonnet Carre spillway at Lake Ponchartrain.

The agency said it will continue to assess the conditions of the river and perform more closures when warranted.

"We'll evaluate the river each day, we'll evaluate the flows again and determine how many we need to close each day until we get the structure completely closed," Corps spokesman Mike Stack told CNN New Orleans affiliate WWL.

The Corps opened the spillway last month to divert water from the Mississippi River and protect New Orleans.

The Mississippi River was at 15.4 feet in New Orleans Saturday, 1.6 feet below flood stage.

Baton Rouge's reading was 39.44. Flood stage is 35 feet.