LA - Louisiana granted final funds for unprecedented coastal restoration project but construction cost rises to $2.92 billion
Louisiana was granted the final necessary funds Wednesday to build the unprecedented Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, with construction expected to start later this year on the nearly $3 billion project aimed at helping slow the land loss devastating the coast.
The last set of funding will come from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is granting $660 million from a 2013 settlement of federal criminal charges involving the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. That means construction of the diversion has climbed to $2.92 billion.
The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said it also is negotiating with the Archer Western-Alberici Joint Venture, chosen in 2018 to build the project, to finalize its cost and when construction will begin. Construction should start this summer, and it is expected to take five years to build.
"Today, we’ve overcome the final hurdle in the funding and approval processes for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “This approval culminates years of hard work and collaboration in which NFWF has been an instrumental partner to CPRA and are eager to get shovels in the ground and start construction."
Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the foundation, called the award "the largest single conservation investment in the history of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation."
“The wetlands in the vicinity of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion were among the most heavily oiled as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and we are pleased to support CPRA’s efforts to continue restoring these vital resources," he said.
The project will release a maximum of 75,000 cubic feet per second of sediment and water from the Mississippi River into Barataria Bay through a 2-mile-long concrete channel near the town of Ironton in Plaquemines Parish.
Operating for up to six months a year, the diversion is expected to create more than 21 square miles of new land by the end of its first 50 years of operation, which would then represent 20% of the remaining wetlands in the Barataria Basin because of continued land loss driven by global warming-fueled sea level rise.