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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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Proposed bulkhead funding questioned by councilmen

Proposed bulkhead funding questioned by councilmen

An ordinance asking for additional money for the Industrial Park Road Bulkhead project, proposed at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting, was deferred until April over some questions about the proposed funding source.

Parish administration’s measure to provide an additional $1.5 million to add 500-ft. more bulkhead along the Intracoastal Waterway in Larose was met with grumbling by some councilmen.

The original scope of the project called for 425-ft. of bulkhead at the intersection of Bayou Lafourche and the Intracoastal Waterway. Sealevel Construction Inc. of Thibodaux was awarded the project after a low bid of $1,235,551.

On Tuesday, Councilman Jerry Lafont objected to the new request during a project update given to the Council by Design Engineer Heather Klingman of Duplantis Design Group.

Lafont said that the source of funding for the project, Road Sales Tax District #2 Fund, is not the proper source.
“We are misleading the public with RSTD2 money. It was passed for roads and drainage. Now we are using it for bulkheads and bridges,” he said.

At a previous meeting, Parish President Charlotte Randolph noted that RSTD2 will have a $4 million surplus in 2015, but Lafont said that money will not last if administration continues to use it for bridges and bulkheads.
Lafont pointed out that one upcoming project to repair approaches to the Galliano Bridge across Bayou Lafourche will cost the parish $300,000.

Councilman Daniel Lorraine said the parish has spent close to $2.5 million on bridges in the 10th Ward since 2008 when bridges were added to RSTD2’s responsibility.

“I know the DA (District Attorney Cam Morvant) said drainage is part of roads. But let’s go and fix what needs to be fixed, not add an additional 500-ft. to this project. I could go and spend $1 million on drainage in my district in five minutes,” he stated.

Klingman said the original design was limited by the amount of money available. “We know what needs to be done. We’re just asking for the money to finish the project,” she stated.

Councilman Phillip Gouaux warned that the additional money is required to protect the roadway near the Intracoastal Waterway, which is heavily travelled by school buses and vehicles going to the shipyard nearby.

“When we looked at the bulkhead with the Corps of Engineers in 2002, we felt the stretch along Bayou Lafourche was the worst. We weren’t aware that the Intracoastal side was that bad. The road is undercut and needs to be fixed,” he said.

Gouaux said that parish councilmen need to stop looking at certain funds as “little dynasties that nobody wants touched.”

Lorraine and Lafont believe the repair should be funded out of the parish’s Royalty fund which collected about $9.4 million in 2014 off of royalties paid from mineral leases in the parish.

After discussion, Lafont offered to defer the measure until April, at which time more debate is likely over the measure.