Alternative financing plan for Houma Navigation Canal project

The Houma Navigation Canal (HNC) Lock Complex Project is advancing to construction using an alternative financing solution, reports the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).

CPRA is utilizing recent legislative authority via Act 89 of the 2020 Regular Legislative Session, giving CPRA the authority to finance coastal restoration projects by entering into debt obligations within the regulatory and oversight process of the State Bond Commission set out in existing law.

The HNC Project is currently proposed to be funded with RESTORE Bucket 3, and CPRA is finalizing the grant process. The alternative financing plan is intended to provide gap financing during the HNC Phase 2 construction period and until CPRA receives the annual RESTORE Bucket 3 payments.

CPRA anticipates starting the competitive process for securing capital market financing a few months prior to the bid of Phase 2.

“We are aggressively finding ways through funding and delivery methods to advance more projects to implementation as quickly as possible,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “HNC is a critically important hurricane protection and ecosystem restoration structure, and we are thrilled to have identified a way to expedite its construction.”

The HNC Lock Complex Project is contained in the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan and 2021 Annual Plan (Project TE-113) as a hydrologic restoration project and is needed to reduce saltwater intrusion and distribute fresh water within the Terrebonne Basin, an area which is experiencing one of the highest rates of land loss in coastal Louisiana. It will also provide crucial flood protection by blocking storm surge as a key component of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project.

In 2013, the Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District (TLCD) constructed a $50 million barge floodgate known as the HNC “Bubba Dove” Floodgate with combined state and local funds. The new lock project will incorporate the existing floodgate as part of the complex.

CPRA anticipates beginning Phase 1 in 2021, while Phase 2, the construction phase, is expected to begin in 2022.

Photo: CPRA