Corps: Morganza levee to cost $12.9 billion
HOUMA (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers says a federal levee designed to protect Terrebonne Parish and parts of Lafourche Parish from storm flooding will cost $12.9 billion. State and local officials would have to come up with 35 percent, or up to $4.5 billion.
The plan released Friday includes 36 additional miles of levee, extending the 98-mile Morganza project from U.S. 90 in Gibson to Louisiana Highway 1 in Lockport.
The corps plans a meeting about the proposal Jan. 31 at the Houma Municipal Auditorium.
The big new price tag was expected and was one reason the district asked voters for a half-cent sales tax, Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District director Reggie Dupre said.
“It will be very, very difficult to get funding for this project short of a disaster that destroys this local economy, which is exactly what we’re trying to prevent,” Dupre said. “We need a federal project to get comprehensive protection from hurricanes. But we’re better off building this on our own in the meantime.”
The recently approved tax will pay for 10-foot levees and 18-foot floodgates as interim protection along Morganza’s path.
The federal plan calls for levees up to 26.5 feet high, with flood protection and water control structures up to 33 feet high. Levees will be 282 to 725 feet wide. The project also includes a lock on the Houma Navigation Canal, 19 floodgates and 23 water-control structures.
Jerome Zeringue, executive director of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said the state supports the federal project but believes that continued delays and overly-strict construction standards have made it too expensive.
“We are working with the corps and the local government to develop features that are not as costly,” he said.
The draft report, started after Congress authorized $886 million for the Morganza project in 2007, revises the construction standards and costs of Morganza-to-the-Gulf.
The corps said the report was necessary because Morganza of the increased costs and stricter levee-design standards required after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Written comments can be sent to Nathan Dayan, Environmental Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 60267, New Orleans, La., 70160-0267 or by email to morganza.comments(at)usace.army.mil. The phone line for comments is 504-862-2530 and the fax line is 504-862-2088.