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Officials To Finalize New Levee Project On Friday

Travis Lux
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Board gets an update about the latest projects in New Orleans on Wednesday, February 20, 2019.

The River Parishes are about to get a major new coastal protection project: 18 miles of storm surge levees between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

St. John, St. James, and St. Charles Parishes are only protected from flood waters along the Mississippi River. There are currently no levees on the swampier side of those parishes along Lake Pontchartrain.

Because of that lack of protection, storm surge from the lake flooded about 7,000 homes in those parishes during Hurricane Isaac in 2012. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the new levees would protect about 60,000 people from future storm surge events.

Chip Kline, board chairman of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, is among the local officials ready to get them built.

“A $760 million dollar project is about to get underway,” Kline said at the monthly CPRA Board meeting Wednesday. "This is a huge deal for the River Parishes.”

The federal government will pay for 65% of the construction cost, with the state and the Pontchartrain Levee District covering the rest, plus the cost of future maintenance. On Friday, local, state, and federal officials will finalize the construction agreement at a ceremonial signing in Lutcher.

The levees are expected to be completed by 2024.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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