Louisiana will be able to count the value of $440 million in state- and parish-funded work toward its share of the cost of the multibillion-dollar Morganza-to-the-Gulf Levee System should federal dollars materialize, state and local officials say.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation District allowing work accomplished and paid for by CPRA and TLCD to count toward the 35 percent local cost share, according to the CPRA.
The Corps deemed the project, which was authorized in 2004, financially infeasible when new standards dramatically increased the expected cost of construction to more than $10 billion. Terrebonne Parish and the state chose to move forward without federal money while the Corps provided guidance to keep the project within acceptable specifications should future federal funding be secured.
“The people of Terrebonne Parish chose to tax themselves rather than wait on anyone else,” TLCD Executive Director Reggie Dupre said.
This year, Corps officials announced a lower revised estimate of between $3.2 billion and $6 billion, though federal dollars have not yet been appropriated.
As envisioned, the full system would include 98 miles of earthen levee, 22 floodgates on navigable waterways, 23 environmental water control structures, a lock in the Houma Navigation Canal measuring 110 feet wide by 800 feet long, an adjoining floodgate measuring 250 feet wide, and a dam closure.
In signing the MOU with CPRA and TLCD, the Corps agreed that work and expenditures on 33 increments of the system that have been completed, are under construction, or will be going to construction can count toward the local cost share if future federal funds get appropriated, officials say.