Agencies Sign Partnering Agreement For Houma Navigation Canal Deepening
Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the Port of Terrebonne met in Houma, La., September 8 to sign a partnering agreement in support of the Houma Navigation Canal (HNC) Deepening Project.
The project, which would deepen the 36.7-mile-long Houma Navigation Canal from 15 to 20 feet, has an estimated construction cost of just under $253.5 million. The Houma Navigation Canal connects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico and serves as an important channel for oil and gas production and shipbuilding.
“The Houma Navigation Canal is the lifeline of Terrebonne Parish, serving as the interstate to the Gulf of Mexico,” said Brig. Gen. Kimberly Peeples, commander of the Mississippi Valley Engineer Division. “The ability of the Houma Navigation Canal, the Port of Terrebonne, along with other Louisiana ports, to operate efficiently and safely is vital to the region and the nation’s economy and national security.”
Col. Cullen Jones, commander of the New Orleans District, thanked officials from the Port of Terrebonne for its work to move the project toward construction.
“The Port of Terrebonne provides both a regional and national value to the nation, and we appreciate the port’s work in leaning forward to perform the needed relocations for the project,” Jones said. “It is our hope that these efforts will help derive more economical projects that will compete well to receive federal dollars to advance this critical effort.”
Besides Peeples and Jones, other partnership agreement signing ceremony participants included David Rabalais, executive director of the Terrebonne Port Commission; Chris Collins, director of waterways for Louisiana DOTD’s office of multimodal commerce; Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Gordon Dove, president of Terrebonne Parish.
“Louisiana fuels and feeds the world through our ports and waterways,” Graves said. “Today’s agreement is the culmination of years of our work to authorize a deeper channel for the HNC and provide direct congressional funding to kick off the project. As boats continue trending toward larger and deeper-draft vessels, this deepening project helps to ensure the competitiveness of some of Louisiana’s most important shipbuilding, vessel repair and offshore service workforce. A big thanks to the Port of Terrebonne, the Corps and all our local stakeholders for their years of relentless advocacy on this important project.”
The signing ceremony involved execution of a cost-share agreement between the Corps and Louisiana DOTD and the Port of Terrebonne, the non-federal sponsors. In addition, the Corps, Louisiana DOTD and CPRA signed an in-kind credit memorandum of understanding for work related to deepening the HNC Lock’s sill from -18 to -23 feet. The deepening will involve relocating several utility lines.
Completing the HNC Lock work will also play a role in the Morganza-to-the-Gulf Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, said CPRA Chairman Bren Haase.
The cost sharing agreement marks the next step in preparing a “letter report” in response to comments from Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor. The Corps will complete that report over the next 12 to 14 months at a cost of $700,000.
The signing ceremony is just one step in a decades-long effort to deepen the waterway, Rabalais said.
“The HNC is the catalyst to Terrebonne’s economy,” Rabalais said. “The port has been working on getting the channel deepened by 5 feet for over 20 years. The execution of this cost-share agreement between the Corps and DOTD brings us another step closer to a deeper channel and sustaining Terrebonne’s economic growth for the next generation.”