Federal, state and local officials sign partnering agreement
USACE NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT
On January 18, 2022, federal, state, and local officials gathered to mark the signing of a Project Partnering Agreement for the Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico project that was executed on December 28, 2021 to kick-off federal-led construction for the project.
The Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico project aims to provide risk reduction for people and property as well as the remaining fragile marsh from hurricane storm surge in the vicinity of Houma, Louisiana. It received $12.46 million funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to develop and execute a Project Partnership Agreement, initiate construction of the Humble Canal Floodgate Preload contract, and create additional design for Humble Canal.
Col. Stephen Murphy, USACE New Orleans District, said of the partnership, “This day has been many years in the making and we are thankful to all those before us who worked to make it possible. Signing this project partnership agreement is an important step toward furthering one of our nation’s most important risk reduction systems. The Corps is proud to be a partner with the state, parishes, and levee districts and to be able to participate in the path forward to strengthening one of our nation’s most important flood risk reduction systems.”
In 2019, through a collaboration between USACE, state and local agencies, an Adaptive Criteria Assessment Report (ACAR) was completed with a re-envisioned path forward for the Morganza to the Gulf project that utilized site-specific design criteria to reduce the project footprint while maintaining the same level of hurricane and storm damage risk reduction. The ACAR reduced the total project cost from $10.3 billion, originally authorized through the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, to approximately $6B in today’s dollars.
Chairman Chip Kline, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority explained the importance of the project to the State of Louisiana. “Today’s Project Partnership Agreement was 30 years in the making – a milestone that’s significance cannot be overstated. This agreement opens the doors for major federal investment for this vital hurricane protection system, which has been entirely financed through state and local funds until now. We’re grateful to be taking this crucial next step alongside the federal government in providing the people of this region with the protection they deserve.”
Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove spoke of the benefits of the project to the Parish. “The taxpayers of Terrebonne Parish, with assistance from the State of Louisiana, have shouldered the burden of paying for this crucial hurricane protection and flood risk reduction system known as Morganza to the Gulf. The completion of this system, which includes levees, floodgates, road gates, and other necessary features, is vital to our long-term resiliency and survival. We are extremely happy to have the federal government, through our friends at the Corps of Engineers, as a financial partner with us in this very important endeavor. This Project Partnership Agreement now ensures the eventual completion of Morganza.”
Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III also highlighted what this partnership means to his Parish. “The Morganza to the Gulf system provides cohesive flood protection to our region, and the work that will be completed through this project partnership agreement is a big step towards strengthening the system and better protecting all of our communities in the future.”
State and local agencies have been making progress on construction along the MTG project alignment, yet there is no federal risk reduction in place in this region. The fully constructed project consists of approximately 98 miles of levees with a combination of flood gates, roadway/railroad gates, fronting protection for pump stations, environmental control structures and a lock complex and affects the safety of more than 200,000 people, with 53,000 structures in industrial and residential areas.
Dwayne Bourgeois, Executive Director, North Lafourche Levee District, praised the partnership in place. “I believe few people understand how much persistent effort goes into getting a project to construction that will impact so many. Frankly, if we are all doing our jobs, they don’t need to know the details, trials and tribulations. That said, the good folks of Terrebonne and Lafourche, whom we all serve, do know what moving dirt looks like and they certainly appreciate the protection a project like this affords. I want to recognize the insistent hard work of all of our local, state and Corps partners at District, Division and HQ in DC, the Assistant Secretary of the Army along with the constant support and effort of our state and federal delegation in helping us get to this incredible milestone.”
Reggie Dupre, Jr., Executive Director, Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District added, “The Morganza to the Gulf Project has always been my top priority since the Corps reconnaissance study first began in 1992. In the past 30 years, as an elected official and Director of the Terrebonne Levee District, I have watched and participated in getting this critical hurricane protection project underway along with other community leaders such as Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove and Terrebonne Levee District President Tony Alford. Thank God that every Louisiana Governor since then along with state agencies, such as CPRA, has been our partner in building the first lift of Morganza while waiting for Federal construction funding. I am very happy that Morganza is now truly a Federal project with the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement by the Corps, CPRA, and the Terrebonne Levee District. We now begin a new chapter in all of our efforts to protect south-central Louisiana.”
Windell Curole, General Manager, South Lafourche Levee District, gave historical context to the partnership. “Since the flooding from Hurricane Juan in 1985 the people of Terrebonne have worked and taxed themselves to improve the needed flood protection for Terrebonne Parish. With the acceptance of the Corps’ Morganza to the Gulf alignment by the Terrebonne Levee District, more construction and partners including the State, CPRA, the South Lafourche Levee District, the North Lafourche Levee District, Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish, has led to improved flood protection. With the work on Humble Canal by the Corps of Engineers, the Corps and Federal government become a full partner in the construction of Comprehensive Hurricane Protection in the central part of coastal Louisiana. The completion of the Morganza project will provide flood protection, environmental enhancement while improving navigation and hurricane evacuation routes.”
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