A $428 million plan to restore two parts of Louisiana’s rapidly eroding coastline is moving ahead.
The commander of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, officially signed the plan during a news conference on June 22 atop the concrete Lake Borgne hurricane surge barrier.
One part of the effort aims to rebuild a beach and wetlands at Caminada Headland south of Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish, the Times-Picayune reports. The other part will rebuild Shell Island, a barrier island east of Grand Isle in Plaquemines Parish.
While Congress has not yet appropriated money to pay for Louisiana Coastal Area projects, Louisiana plans to begin construction of both the Barataria projects during the next nine months, using money set aside as its share of construction costs, said Kyle Graham, deputy executive director of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Louisiana officials said the state will spend $108 million, part of its share of costs, to begin construction by the end of the year. Overall, the state plans to spend $300 million on coastal restoration in the next year, an official said.
The two projects are part of a “multiple lines of defense” strategy that uses levees, floodwalls and coastal restoration projects to reduce the risk from hurricane storm surges, said Col. Edward Fleming, commander of the corps’ New Orleans operations. The strategy was developed by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation before Hurricane Katrina and adopted by the corps in both its design of improvements to the New Orleans levee system and its work with the state to develop restoration projects.
The Barataria project is part of a nearly $2 billion Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Plan approved by Congress in 2007.
“As the state of Louisiana and the United States of America loses over a football field every hour, this project is sorely needed to protect the coastline,” Fleming said.
The state plans to spend about $53 million to begin construction of two islands as part of the Shell Island project early next year. The money was originally given to Louisiana by BP PLC as part of $360 million the company dedicated to building sand berms to capture oil during the Deepwater Horizon spill. When BP’s Macondo well was capped and the flow of oil onshore ended, BP agreed to allow a remaining $105 million to be used to rebuild barrier islands.
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