Partnership agreement signed for critical hurricane protection project

Federal, state, and local officials gathered yesterday to mark the signing of a Project Partnership Agreement for the Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico project.

The agreement allows for federal investment into the vital levee system protecting both Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

The Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico project aims to provide risk reduction for people and property as well as the remaining fragile marsh from hurricane storm surge in the vicinity of Houma, Louisiana.

It received $12.46 million funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to develop and execute a Project Partnership Agreement, initiate construction of the Humble Canal Floodgate Preload contract, and create additional design for Humble Canal.

Col. Stephen Murphy, USACE New Orleans District, said of the partnership, “This day has been many years in the making and we are thankful to all those before us who worked to make it possible. Signing this project partnership agreement is an important step toward furthering one of our nation’s most important risk reduction systems.”

In 2019, through a collaboration between USACE, state and local agencies, an Adaptive Criteria Assessment Report (ACAR) was completed with a re-envisioned path forward for the Morganza to the Gulf project that utilized site-specific design criteria to reduce the project footprint while maintaining the same level of hurricane and storm damage risk reduction. The ACAR reduced the total project cost from $10.3B, originally authorized through the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, to approximately $6B in today’s dollars.

Chairman Chip Kline, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority explained the importance of the project to the State of Louisiana. “Today’s Project Partnership Agreement was 30 years in the making – a milestone that’s significance cannot be overstated. This agreement opens the doors for major federal investment for this vital hurricane protection system, which has been entirely financed through state and local funds until now.”

State and local agencies have been making progress on construction along the MTG project alignment, yet there is no federal risk reduction in place in this region. The fully constructed project consists of approximately 98 miles of levees with a combination of flood gates, roadway/railroad gates, fronting protection for pump stations, environmental control structures and a lock complex and affects the safety of more than 200,000 people, with 53,000 structures in industrial and residential areas.

Photo: CPRA