Coastal projects draft plan discussed

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority projects $738 million in spending for the 2020 fiscal year, with $505 million outlined for construction, according to its draft annual plan.

Bren Haase, CPRA executive director, discussed the draft plan during a public hearing Tuesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. There are 12 active projects listed for the Southwest Region, with six in construction and six in the engineering and design phases. The region includes Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes.

Some projects in construction include $35.4 million in shoreline stabilization at Rockefeller Refuge; $27 million for restoration at Rabbit Island; and $26 million for Cameron-Creole freshwater introduction.

The plan mentions 76 active projects statewide, with 38 in construction, 32 in the engineering and design phases and six in the planning stage.

The draft plan also provides a three-year outlook at projected revenue, spending and project schedules, Haase said. It estimates $738 million in total spending for the 2021 fiscal year and $938 million in spending for the 2022 fiscal year. The amount of project-associated spending for the 2022 fiscal year is 91 percent.

Haase said the goal is to get coastal protection projects “on the ground.”

“We want to get dollars out the door and projects built,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. That’s what our citizens demand and deserve.”

Comments

Laurie Cormier, Calcasieu Police Jury coastal zone manager, reminded CPRA officials of their pledge to provide coastal program funding to the areas that need it the most and can get the most benefit from improvement projects.

“Southwest Louisiana has a tremendous amount of economic expansion,” she said. “It’s vital that we have our share of the limited coastal funds as deemed necessary for our area experiencing great benefit to coastal Louisiana.”

Cormier also said money should be set aside for construction of salinity control measures at the Calcasieu Ship Channel as soon as possible. The project is listed in the draft annual plan as being in the engineering and design phase, with a value of $263.7 million.

District 6 Calcasieu Police Juror Dennis Scott asked the CPRA to review the policy of protecting the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

“That is kind of our defense line,” he said.

The Lake Charles meeting was the first of a series of three public hearings scheduled this month. The comment period on the draft plan lasts until March 9. Comments can be mailed to coastal@la.gov, or mailed to CPRA 150 Terrace Ave., Baton Rouge, La. 70802.

The annual plan will be presented to the CPRA board March 20. If approved, it will go before the Legislature during the spring session, which starts April 8.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Tuesday that Haase was appointed executive director of the CPRA.””Coastal Restoration graphic

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