Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life

Lafourche levee project moves ahead

By:  Xerxes Wilson,

December 12, 2013


Lafourche Parish’s portion of the local Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee project to protect it and Terrebonne Parish from hurricanes is progressing.

Fueled by a 1/2-cent sales tax, Terrebonne has made strides toward building what would be the footprint for the federal project if it ever comes to fruition.

Now officials are turning their attention to one of the last portions to be permitted. This 10.5-mile section, known as Reaches K and L, stretches from Point-aux-Chenes to Cut Off.

Earlier this week, levee officials in Terrebonne and south Lafourche completed an agreement to work together on the portion that Terrebonne Levee District Director Reggie Dupre said should be permitted in the spring.

Two pieces of the stretch moving forward. The first, a 56-foot, $14 million floodgate on Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is being designed.

Meanwhile, the state has taken the lead on building a 10-foot-high, 2-mile-long section of levee west from Cut Off, Dupre said.

Five public entities, the North Lafourche, South Lafourche and Terrebonne levee districts; and Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, have shared the costs of getting permits for the rest.

Dupre said the South Lafourche Levee District in having the remaining improvements designed, though Terrebonne will keep its project manager, who has overseen the rest of construction, on the job.

Finding the $50 million needed to complete the 10.5-mile stretch is ongoing.

Dupre said the state has about $12 million lined up for the project. That will pay for design of the two levee reaches and two floodgates along the stretches.

Whatever is left over from paying for those designs will be put toward building Reach K, which is about 6 miles long. That will involve taking an existing mitigation levee from about 6 feet elevation to 8 feet.

That will leave the 2-mile Reach L designed but lacking money to pay for it. Dupre said that stretch is the most expensive because there is no levee as a footprint, and multiple pipeline crossings and floodgates will be needed over two bayous.

Though the reaches are in Lafourche, Dupre said they benefit Houma and Terrebonne by protecting them from flooding to the east.

Eventually, Dupre said he expects the state will bear the burden of the two reaches’ full cost.

It remains unclear whether Morganza will ever receive the $10 billion the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will need to upgrade the system. Also unclear is whether the Terrebonne Levee District will receive federal credit for the money it spends to build the interim system. If federal money is approved, the district would be required to provide 35 percent of the money to match the federal government’s 65 percent.

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