Cameron shoreline work could start in April

By By John Guidroz / American Press

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.

Saltwater intrusion

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.

Online: www.coastal.la.gov; www.restorethegulf.gov.