Louisiana News

Gov. Edwards wants $150 million in state surplus funds spent on coastal restoration and protection

(The Center Square) – Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling on the Legislature to allocate $150 million in state surplus funding toward an array of coastal restoration and protection projects.

Edwards joined officials with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CRPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on Tuesday to highlight his proposal, which includes $84.5 million toward restoration efforts and $65 million toward hurricane and flood protection projects across 13 parishes.

“At this moment, we are reaping the rewards of over a decade and a half of planning and implementation efforts,” Edwards said. “We have invested in the science and directed every available dollar toward projects that deliver real benefits to our people. Our track record of investment and implementation has allowed CPRA’s program to grow steadily into the success story it is today. The confidence we have in our coastal program has now been reaffirmed by an even larger investment from the federal government.

“I am now asking the Legislature to help us recover further from the devastating hurricanes of 2020 and 2021 by dedicating $150 million of state surplus to projects that will make us safer and more resilient well into the future,” he said.

The plan includes 15 coastal projects ranging from $200,000 for the LSU Center for River Studies in Baton Rouge to $38 million for the design and construction of the Northwest Little Lake Marsh Creation in Lafourche Parish.

Others on the list include $30 million for work on the Lafitte Tidal Protection project in Jefferson Parish, $12 million for the LaBranche Shoreline Protection project in St. Charles Parish, and $11 million for the Grand Bayou Ridge Restoration and Canal Backfilling project in Plaquemines Parish.

“This is a pivotal moment for the coastal program. Our 2023 Annual Plan is the largest in CPRA history, with over a billion dollars allocated for construction and major investments in hurricane protection, sediment diversions, and 23 dredging projects across our coast,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “We are excited to see the prioritization of vital coastal restoration and protection projects in this year’s surplus funding.”

Edwards’ proposal would send $10 million each to the Montz Pump Station in St. Charles Parish; the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes; and the Southwest Coastal Project in Cameron, Calcasieu, and Vermilion parishes.

Another $8 million would go toward the Cameron Gulf Shoreline Protection project in Cameron Parish, and $6.5 million to work on breakwaters in Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish.

Edwards wants to send $5 million each to the Ted Gisclair Lock Structure in Lafourche Parish and the Vermilion Parish Projects, for work on shoreline protection and ridge restoration projects, as well as the North Vermilion Bay Shoreline Protection Project.

The proposal would send $2 million to both the Atchafalaya Basin Program in St. Mary Parish and “to leverage funds provided by partners to implement Restoration Partnership projects coastwide,” according to an Edwards statement.

“Coastal Louisiana’s importance to the nation is underscored by the administration and Congress’ recent investment of more than $2.6 billion under the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs acts,” said Col. Stephen Murphy, commander of the USACE New Orleans District. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the State of Louisiana in delivering their commitment to support the area’s recovery and improve its resiliency to future conditions.”

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