We used to be the builder of the world. Skyscrapers, bridges and the Interstate Highway system.
The United States was once the world leader in building the world’s tallest buildings, the world’s largest dam, the world’s greatest port system. We were the world leader in all facets of design and construction. These were titles in the past that this country claimed. But no more. We need to step forward and reclaim the mantle of global leader in engineering solutions. I am not suggesting patchwork fixes. It’s time we returned to greatness in developing new ideas for projects that solve our most dangerous threats, such as the storm surge from hurricanes. We need to challenge our political, business and community leaders into a laser-focused effort. Let’s put our energy into creating something “outside the box.”nola.com
This is truly out of the box and my first thought was this is a spoof but the more I though about it it reminds me of what the Netherlands have done.
Here is a suggestion: a new interstate highway bridge crossing the state following the Louisiana coastline, with a flood wall attached to the outside of the southern bridge. I call this idea the Intelligent Interstate, or I-Q. Think of a Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge running from Lake Charles to the Mississippi border that would hold back a storm surge with a series of attached panels. A simple design of cross bracing the bridge pilings would create the structural strength needed to hold a 20-foot-high wall of water during a storm surge. The water is shallow at this point and the design is well-tested and would work. This structure would eliminate the most dangerous threat from hurricanes, which is the storm surge of water that destroys property, claims the lives of our citizens and prevents south Louisiana from being a safe place to live and work.
This of hurricanes the the storm surge damage.
The damage from Hurricane Ian to the state of Florida is projected to exceed $100 billion. The I-Q could cost half of that amount. If added to the interstate system, the federal government could pay for 80% of the bridge construction. Doesn’t it make sense to spend the money to resolve the problem rather than rebuilding again and again? Louisiana is one storm away from a devasting disaster. Would it work? Hurricane Ida produced significant flooding throughout south Louisiana with one exception: New Orleans East and St Bernard Parish, which are now protected by the storm surge barrier in the former MRGO and Lake Borgne. No major flooding. It worked! I-Q would serve as a major evacuation outlet, would reduce saltwater intrusion into our wetlands and would provide the oil and gas industry with a direct interstate access to Port Fourchon, which would significantly reduce truck traffic through the communities of south Louisiana. This project would address the next major crisis facing us, huge increases in the cost of flood insurance or the difficulty in buying flood insurance at all. I-Q would incentivize the development of recreational facilities to its north, such as fishing, boating and diving. These projects would create thousands of jobs in the communities that struggle to provide opportunities for their citizens.
Not easy construction and costly but what are the benefits?
Would it be easy? Absolutely not. It would take all our joint efforts to plan, finance, construct and maintain this structure. Everyone thought the Superdome was a fantasy idea, never to be finalized. Strong leadership committed to a common goal was the magic that provided success. The Superdome has endured over 50 years. If we could build the world’s longest bridge (the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway) nearly 70 years ago, what is keeping us from building the longest and most efficient storm surge protection system in the world now?
This is a thought and a good one. It is out of the box which maybe we need. How much of what we are doing would be unnecessary if we had this barrier?