Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 2:01 PM
Work on an estimated $50 million project to protect the Cameron Parish shoreline could begin as early as April, an official with the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said Thursday.
About 70 people attended Thursday’s meeting at the Lake Charles Civic Center. It was one of three meetings the CPRA held throughout the state this week to discuss its draft annual plan, efforts to restore areas affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and progress of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
Kyle Graham, CPRA deputy executive director, said the annual plan includes $701 million in projected expenditures for the 2014 fiscal year. Of that, about $513 million will be spent on construction, and just over $63 million will be spent on engineering and design plans.
The draft annual plan says the Cameron shoreline protection project “re-establishes the dunes and beachhead for 8.7 miles from the western Calcasieu River Jetty to the eastern-most breakwater at the Holly Beach-Constance Beach breakwater field.” Graham said the project was bid in December.
Laurie Cormier, assistant planner and coastal zone manager for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said the project is critical because it protects the parish from future storms.
“When you protect the shoreline, you’re protecting us,” she said. “We’re trying to get to the 500-year level of protection.”
The public comment period on the CPRA annual plan ends March 23. After that, the plan is submitted to the CPRA board for approval and should be sent to the state Legislature for consideration by April 22.
People can mail comments on the CPRA annual plan to Chuck Perrodin, P.O. Box 44207, Baton Rouge, LA 70804.
Another project of interest for Southwest Louisiana is up to $400 million on preventing saltwater intrusion at Calcasieu Lake through the Calcasieu Ship Channel. Graham said it is one of many projects being considered that could be funded with money the state receives as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“This is a very significant source of saltwater intrusion into the marshes that is leading to a lot of the loss of wetlands in this area,” he said. “We are targeting projects across the state.”
Graham said the engineering firm Tetra Tech was hired Thursday to begin work on a feasibility study for the project.
Graham said Gov. Bobby Jindal “has been very clear” that money the state receives from the oil spill will be spent on coastal restoration.
Tina Horn, administrator for Cameron Parish, said CPRA officials should help parish officials get prepared once the state receives money from the spill.
According to the Restore Act, 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the spill will be dedicated to the Gulf Coast for restoration projects. Thirty-five percent of those funds will be equally divided by the states affected by the spill.
Teresa Christopher, senior adviser for Gulf restoration with the U.S. Department of Commerce, said there is uncertainty on when the funds will be received and how much the state will get.