Not all the money is here but the state will be spending $1.28 billion, yes billion, on needed flood protection and coastal reclamation. Some of these projects are multi-year ones.
Louisiana wants to spend $1.28 billion on dozens of hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects in the fiscal year that begins July 1, which would be the highest amount spent in a single year to protect the state from an increasingly volatile climate. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s billion-dollar, 76-project spending plan, presented for the first time at an authority meeting Wednesday, would also finally align the state with the spending goals set in its coastal Master Plan, authority officials said. That broader plan calls for spending $50 billion over 50 years to shore the state up against sea level rise and other climate challenges. The authority’s spending plan also includes $80 million for engineering and design work for 33 projects, and another $11 million for initial basic planning for five more projects.nola.com
This now a spending plan as some of the money still needs to be furnished.
It’s a spending plan, and not a budget, because not all of the money from nearly a dozen different revenue streams has been turned over to the state yet, authority chairman Chip Kline said. And with the announcement Wednesday of $2.7 billion of funding being funneled through the Army Corps of Engineers budget for numerous Louisiana projects, there’s a good chance that the spending totals in the plan will rise before it is presented to the Legislature for an up-down vote in mid-March. Kline reminded authority members Wednesday that while Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to use as much as $150 million of state surplus money to fund annual projects, the money won’t go into the plan without the Legislature’s blessing. Public comments will be accepted on the plan through Feb. 26, and the authority board will vote on the plan’s final version at its March 16 meeting.
Some say this is an ambitious plan but others say a needed plan.
The annual plan calls for $276.7 million to be used for the first phase of construction of the proposed $1.4 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion in Plaquemines Parish, funded with a share of the $8 billion set aside for Louisiana as part of the BP Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment settlement. Another $13.4 million is to be spent on engineering and design for that project, with the money coming from a portion of the criminal fines paid by BP for the spill. The state has marked the construction costs in red in the plan, representing the state’s expectation that the Corps will approve the permits necessary to begin construction by Aug. 29, 2023. The plan also includes work on 18 projects where more than 79 million cubic yards of dredged material will be used to directly create or nourish about 14,000 acres – almost 22 square miles — of new wetlands, ridges or barrier islands. That’s enough dirt to fill the Caesar’s Superdome 17 times. The total cost of those projects, many of which are being built over several years, equals more than $1.1 billion.
Funding comes from a variety of sources.
Funding for the plan will come from a variety of different federal and state programs, including the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the RESTORE Act. BP oil spill money will also help cover the costs. The plan also includes partial funding for 67 projects in the southeastern part of the state, including 45 that are under construction. Here are some of the projects and their total costs: the $114.6 million first increment of the Lake Borgne Marsh Creation project, which includes rebuilding more than 2,800 acres of wetlands near Shell Beach, the $54.3 million Golden Triangle Marsh Creation project, which is using material dredged from Lake Borgne to rebuild wetlands in the northwestern corner of Lake Borgne, the $29.7 million LaBranche Central Marsh Creation project on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish, the $25.4 million New Orleans Landbridge Shoreline Stabilization and Marsh Creation project on the northern edge of Lake Borgne near the Lake Catherine community, with 280 acres to be restored in 2023 with 1.3 million cubic yards of dredged material from Lakes St.. Catherine and Pontchartrain, the Spanish Pass increment of the Barataria Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation project, a $100.2 million project to rebuild 1,700 acres of marsh and ridge on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish. It’s the largest ridge and marsh creation project for the authority to date and River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp, a $200 million project to add Mississippi River water to the area to reduce salinity levels and help restore the cypress-tupelo swamp around the lake.
There are other plans for work which will keep companies doing the work busy.
Officials also plan to improve hurricane surge protection in the Lafitte area, including 4 miles of floodwalls, gates and levees built to a 7.5-foot elevation along Bayou Barataria and Goose Bayou. The plan also includes 39 projects in the state’s south central region, including 26 that will be under construction. They include more than $391 million for the $3 billion Morganza to the Gulf hurricane levee system; the Corps announced Wednesday that it would be spending an additional $378.5 million on that levee system, thanks to the federal infrastructure bill. Other projects in that area include: the Bayou Terrebonne Increment of the Terrebonne Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation project, a project costing $162.3 million to restore about 5,000 acres of ridge and marsh and the $65.4 million Bayou Dularge Ridge and Marsh Creation project, which will restore about 3.3 miles of ridge and 25 acres of marsh.
There is also work in the Southwest region so the whole coastal area is covered.
In the southwest region, the plan expects to fund eight projects, including five already under construction. The biggest projects underway in that area are two segments of the South Grand Chenier Marsh Creation project, which combined will have a total cost of over $50 million to rebuild wetlands in Cameron Parish. Money also will be provided to a project adding shoreline protection to the Rockefeller wildlife refuge and to the Freshwater Bayou Canal.
There will be both online and in-person opportunities for public comments.
The annual plan will be the subject of three in-person and one virtual meeting in January: Jan. 24, McNeese State University, SEED Center Business Incubator, Willis Noland Room, 4310 Ryan St., Lake Charles, Jan. 25, Nicholls State University, Donald G. Bollinger Student Union Ballroom, 906 E. 1st St., Thibodaux, Jan. 26, Joseph S. Yenni Building, Jefferson Parish Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 1221 Elmwood Park Blvd., Metairie and Jan. 27, virtual meeting via Zoom. The link will be available on the authority web site, https://coastal.la.gov, and on its Facebook page. The in-person meetings will begin with a 5:30 p.m. open house, followed by a public meeting and presentation at 6 p.m. Public comments will be accepted at 6:30 p.m. The virtual meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
We need to support his work as the projects are needed.