April 5, 2018
By: Julia Arenstam, HoumaToday.com
Members of the Morganza Action Coalition recently met with Gov. John Bel Edwards to advocate for an estimated $22.5 million in state money for the Grand Bayou Floodgate.
The Grand Bayou Floodgate is the last major link between the Terrebonne and Lafourche levee segments along the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system.
Morganza is made up of levees, locks and floodgates designed to withstand 100-year, Category 3 storm surges to protect Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. Over the last 15 years, about $400 million in local and state money has been spent on the system.
Located along Reach L of the levee system in Lafourche Parish between Pointe-aux-Chenes and Cut off, the Grand Bayou Floodgate will provide protection for residents of north Lafourche Parish and parts of Terrebonne Parish, said Reggie Dupre, Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District executive director.
“Water does not recognize artificial political boundaries,” he said.
Finishing the floodgate is the highest concern for all three levee districts and the parish governments in Terrebonne and Lafourche, Dupre said.
The local levee boards have been working on designs for the floodgate for about four years, said Windell Curole, South Lafourche Levee District general manager.
The floodgate will be built along a 10-mile levee system along Reaches K and L. That stretch is one of the largest gaps in the system, but work is underway to fill those holes.
In Reach K, Weeks Marine is working on a $2.2 million, 6.5 mile levee project just east of Pointe-aux-Chenes. The work is expected to be complete in early 2019, Dupre said. In Reach L, state and Lafourche Parish Community Development Block Grant money is being used for another two-mile levee project that is under construction.
Those projects are about $4 million under budget, so there may be enough money left over to finish the remaining mile and a half gap in that area, Dupre said.
“The levee projects on either side of the gate are moving along real well,” Curole said. “They’re matching our expectations.”
If the floodgate is funded, all 10 miles will be connected to the rest of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system.
The new floodgate will be built in the northern part of the South Lafourche Levee District and protect residents in Houma, north Lafourche and parts of the Grand Bois and Larose communities.
To finish the Grand Bayou Floodgate by the start of hurricane season in 2020, the money needs to be secured this year, Dupre said.
Once construction begins, it will take about a year and a half to construct after a three-month bid process.
Edwards continued to be supportive of finishing the project during the meeting last month and is looking at financing options, Dupre said.
The state money is especially important for this project because of its unique situation, he said.
Getting local money for a project that crosses parish lines is difficult, so the coalition has always anticipated paying for the Reaches K and L and the floodgate primarily through the state, he said.
The coalition is hoping to build a 10-foot-tall floodgate for about $22.5 million, Curole said.
If the state money isn’t secured, the group could place a temporary barge in its place during emergencies for about $4 million.
Curole said the governor was more supportive of the floodgate than spending $4 million on a temporary solution.