FILE - Louisiana marshland coast

Louisiana marshland

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plans to seek bids for 28 projects costing about $1.97 billion in the coming year, officials said Wednesday.

“Over the next four years, for the first time in the history of our coastal program, we will break ground on projects that will restore more land than we expect to lose,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said, quoting Gov. John Bel Edwards’ inauguration speech.

CPRA currently has 100 active projects, 27 of which are under construction, said Bren Haase, the authority’s executive director. Of the rest, 11 are in the planning stage while 62 are being designed.

This year, CPRA expects to begin projects that will dredge and pump almost 75 million cubic yards of sediment, creating roughly 11,000 acres of land, or about 17 square miles, Haase said. He expects the state to lose between 11 and 12 square miles this year, he said.

CPRA spends money from various sources, none of which is the state general fund. Sources include state mineral revenue, federal revenue sharing from Gulf of Mexico energy production, and settlement payments resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

Kline said CPRA is on track to finalize its next annual plan next month. He said there may be some changes based on discussions with the governor’s office about the use of surplus dollars and a possible increase in federal revenue sharing.

Meg Bankston with the governor’s office discussed three legislative priorities for the session that begins March 9, one being approval of the new annual plan.

Bankston and Kline said legislation also is needed to tweak the funding structure and makeup of the New Orleans-area levee boards to “get back to managing that system as just that, as a system, and not managing it along parochial or parish boundaries,” Kline said. While multiple levee districts were consolidated into two regional districts after Hurricane Katrina, the taxing authority remains at the parish level, officials said.

Bankston also expects lawmakers to consider allowing CPRA to take on debt and use “creative financing options.” The state Department of Transportation and Development already has this authority, she noted.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.