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Wednesday, January 29, 2020



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Louisiana coastal authority releases $958 million spending plan

Louisiana coastal authority releases $958 million spending plan

The Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority expects to spend $958 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1, the most of any year in the history of the state’s coastal program, according to the draft spending plan released Wednesday.

Of the total, $718 million would be spent on construction. CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said the proportion of total spending going to construction projects, which stands at 75 percent for next fiscal year, will increase to 81 percent the following year and 89 percent the year after now that major projects are moving past the planning, engineering and design stages that must be completed before construction funding is obtained.

“This will also be our biggest year yet for dredging,” CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase said, referring to the method of suctioning sediment from water bottoms and pumping it through pipelines to create or replenish coastal wetlands.

CPRA spends money from various sources, none of which is the state general fund. Sources include state mineral revenue, federal revenue sharing from Gulf of Mexico energy production, and settlement payments resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

Upcoming fiscal years will see the first major Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement projects move into construction, officials say.

Included in the plan for next fiscal year is $75 million in state Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act dollars to build a permanent 400-foot barge flood gate across Bayou Chene south of Morgan City to prevent backwater flooding from the Atchafalaya Basin and storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico. In the absence of a permanent floodgate, temporary barges were sunk in 1973, 2011, 2016 and again during the extended flood fight this year.

Also included in next year’s plan is the $760 million West Shore-Lake Pontchartrain project meant to protect nearly 60,0000 residents from tropical storm surge impacting the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Other key takeaways from the annual plan, as highlighted by CPRA officials, include:

- 91.6 percent of total expenditures will go toward project implementation and maintenance.

- 106 projects are listed as active: 60 in construction, 38 in engineering and design, and eight in planning.

- 14 active projects are in Southwest Louisiana, 29 in South Central Louisiana, and 63 in Southeast Louisiana.

- 16 dredging projects are slated for construction, including 76.8 million cubic yards to create or nourish more than 13,000 acres.

CPRA plans to hold public input meetings about the plan on Jan. 6 in New Orleans, Jan. 7 in Houma and Jan. 8 in Lake Charles. Written comments can be submitted by mail or by email at coastal@la.gov.