April 17, 2018
Final engineering and design money wins approval.
By: Keith Magill, HoumaToday.com
Officials have approved the final $18.5 million needed to complete design and engineering work for a major flood-protection lock in the Houma Navigation Canal, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.
The $366 million lock serves as the linchpin to Terrebonne Parish’s hurricane-protection system and aims to protect Houma and other inland communities from Gulf of Mexico storm surges.
The design money has won final approval from the RESTORE Council, which oversees distribution of billions of dollars in fines and penalties paid by BP and other companies involved with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The money is designated by law to repair environmental damage to Gulf states.
The lock is a priority in the state’s $50 billion, 50-year coastal master plan. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which oversees the master plan work, will receive design money for the lock.
“Today’s announcement is another example of how we have entered into a new era in the state’s coastal program,” Edwards said in a news release. “This new era is signified by the implementation of projects that are large enough in scale to match the size of the problem we face.
“The Houma Navigation Canal Lock Complex is a prime example of how we are implementing projects that provide multiple benefits and are delivering on the Master Plan’s goals of flood protection, coastal restoration and a more resilient economy.”
“This is great news,” Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove said in an interview. “It looks like we’ll be ready to go to construction next year.”
Design, which will cost about $32 million combined, started about three years ago using money left over from other state coastal projects. Lock construction is expected to be complete in 2022.
The largest single public works project in parish history, it also will also channel fresh water from the Atchafalaya River through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and into marshes in central and western Terrebonne. And closing the system will help prevent salt water from the Gulf from eroding freshwater marshes.
The 110-foot complex, part of the parish’s Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane-protection system, will work in concert with the existing Bubba Dove Floodgate south of Dulac. Most boats heading to and from the Gulf of Mexico oilfield will navigate through the lock system, but the Bubba Dove Floodgate will have to be opened for wider vessels.
All of the construction money, which will also come from BP oil spill fines, has won final approval and is expected to be received over the next 12 years by the state. State government plans to spend money to build the lock as needed and collect the BP fine money as it comes in as repayment.
“This is the type of project that has been envisioned for years, and we are pleased to finally move this critical project forward,” said Coastal Authority Chairman Johnny Bradberry.
The Terrebonne Levee District is leading the lock’s construction.
“We’re very pleased and honored that state government has that much confidence in us to handle such a mega-project,” Terrebonne Levee Director Reggie Dupre said.