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Sunday, February 17, 2019



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Draft 2020 coastal plan outlined in Houma

Draft 2020 coastal plan outlined in Houma


 


The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority visited Houma last Wednesday to discuss final approval of the 2020 Annual Plan.

The draft plan, presented to the public at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, proposes spending about $2.5 billion through 2022 for coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects.

“We’re not in the business of sitting on money. When we get dollars in the door, our plan is to get those out the door and expend them in the form of projects for the people of the coast,” CPRA’s new Executive Director Bren Haase said.

Haase, who was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards last week after Michael Ellison resigned, outlined the draft 2020 plan to the large crowd in Houma, focusing on projects in the Terrebonne-Lafourche area.

CPRA is accepting public comments on the plan until March 9. It will then be revised and sent to the CPRA Board for approval at its March 20 meeting before being presented to the state Legislature this spring.

Out of the $783 million in spending planned for the 2020, $505 million would be set aside for construction on 38 projects, $141 million for engineering and design of 32 projects and $10.8 million for planning of six projects.

According to spending estimates, the percentage of CPRA dollars spent on construction will increase every year, from 65 percent in 2020 to 73 percent in 2021 and up to 82 percent by 2022.

However, Mart Black, Terrebonne Parish coastal restoration and preservation director, said he has concerns about the planning phase of coastal restoration.

“We’re talking about $2.5 billion in total expenditures estimated, with about almost $2 billion of that in construction. So we’re going to see things on the ground, and that’s great, because obviously these projects have to be developed over time. But my concern is that as we go forward, I’m not seeing a lot of the coastal restoration projects in the plan,” Black said.

He noted that the federal government shutdown could have delayed presentation of new projects.

Some local projects slated to receive financing through CPRA over the next three years include $5.5 million for the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system, $208.5 million for the Houma Navigation Canal lock complex and millions in marsh creation and barrier island restoration projects.

Terrebonne Parish Parish President Gordy Dove, who served on the CPRA Board for eight years, highlighted several of those projects and the parish’s other efforts to prevent saltwater intrusion and flooding.

“We’re really moving in Terrebonne Parish,” Dove said. “I used to not be able to say we’re winning, but we’re winning. We haven’t won, we still have a ways to go, but we have a level of protection. We’re restoring marshes, we’re mitigating the levee all along.”

Public comments on the draft plan can be submitted to CPRA by emailing coastal@la.gov or by mail to CPRA, 150 Terrace Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

The plan is online at http://coastal.la.gov/our-plan/annual-plan.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.