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Some $200 Million In Corps Funding Set Aside For Louisiana Projects

Included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which was signed into law February 9, is $17.398 billion set aside for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund a wide-ranging list of disaster recovery projects.

“The short-term repair work will alleviate the impacts of the project damages and shoaling on human safety, flood-prone property, commercial navigation costs, ecosystem values, and other project outputs such as recreation, hydropower and water supply,” said R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works.

The initial work plan for the disaster recovery projects, totaling more than $359 million and covering 31 projects in 11 states, includes seven projects in Louisiana. Of that initial $359 million in disaster recovery funding, $205.11 million will go toward the Louisiana projects.

According to the New Orleans Engineer District, the breakdown for funding is as follows:

The Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf & Black project will receive $20 million in disaster recovery funding, with those funds directed to the bar channel south of the Port of Morgan City, which has seen an extended period below its authorized depth.

“We are pleased to report that by late this year or early next year we will have a reliable, navigable channel from Morgan City to the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in several years,” Port of Morgan City Executive Director Mac Wade said.

Wade attributed that much-anticipated re-established channel to both the new funding and a new dredge strategy.

“A specialty-built dredge that will be contracted by the Corps of Engineers is scheduled to be ready this fall to more efficiently and effectively perform ‘fluff management’ in the bar channel as opposed to traditional dredging that has been performed in the bar channel for many years,” he said. “The $20 million in funding from the Bipartisan Budget Act, along with the nearly $13 million the port will receive in FY 19, will be used to repair our channel after damages that occurred as a result of Hurricane Harvey and to restore our bay and bar channel to their original dimensions.”

Wade said his port is already hearing from potential customers who are anticipating the reopening of the navigation channel to its authorized width and depth.

“Since the news of the allocation of additional funding to the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene has gotten out, the port is already getting calls about potential business for 2019 and 2020,” he said. “Our shipyards and fabricators will be able to be confident that they can deliver the jobs they are bidding on. With this additional funding, we will have opportunities to diversify. We are going to make this happen!”

The Bayou LaFourche and LaFourche Jump Waterway project will receive $11.1 million to go toward dredging the bar channel and making jetty repairs.

By far, the largest portion of the funds—$103 million—will go to the Calcasieu River and Pass project for dredging the river and bar channel, placing rock for shoreline protection and repairing the waterway’s saltwater barrier, which blocks saltwater from creeping up the Calcasieu River.

The Corps’ Freshwater Bayou project will receive $10 million for channel dredge work and guidewall repairs.

“We’re pleased to note that the New Orleans District is receiving quite a sum of money here for supplemental appropriations to rectify some of these issues,” said Mike Park, chief of operations division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District, speaking at a hurricane season planning meeting May 15. “We’re looking forward to getting busy and doing some restoration work on Gulf entrance channels from Freshwater Bayou, the Atchafalaya River and the Calcasieu River coming up in the next few months.”

About a third of the total amount coming to Louisiana projects will be spent in Southeast Louisiana.

Just over $8.1 million is earmarked for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana and will go toward mooring dolphin work at the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock, and dredging and repairs at the Port Allen Lock near Baton Rouge and Algiers Lock on the west bank in New Orleans.

The Mississippi River will benefit from two items on the fund list. The Mississippi River Outlets at Venice project will get $12.9 million for performing jetty repairs and dredging Baptiste Collette, the outlet used last year by the towing industry during the dewatering of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock. The second largest sum—$40 million—will go to the Mississippi River, Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico project and will pay for jetty and rock repairs near Southwest Pass and dredging the river channel.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) praised the Corps for announcing the more than $200 million in funding for Louisiana projects.

“It’s vital for our state’s security and economy to repair damage from recent disasters that was done to our flood protection systems and navigational projects,” Scalise said in a statement. “That’s why I fought to include supplemental funding for these projects in the Bipartisan Budget Act I helped lead to passage in Congress earlier this year. While there is still more work to do, I’m pleased with the announcement by the Corps that they will release over $200 million of this funding to help restore these projects in Louisiana, so we can dredge and repair our navigational channels that are so vital to our state’s and nation’s transportation.”

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