Work to restore nearly 5 square miles of Louisiana coast

May 19, 2021 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Work has begun on three projects designed to restore nearly 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) of Louisiana’s coastal land, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

They’ll use a total of 18 million cubic yards (13.8 million cubic meters) of sediment dredged from the Mississippi River — enough to fill the Superdome 18 times, he said.

The $256.6 million total cost is being covered by money paid by BP PLC after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he said during a news conference livestreamed from Baton Rouge.

The Spanish Pass project will build more than 1,500 acres (607 hectares) of marsh and 132 acres (53 hectares) of ridge west of Venice in Plaquemines Parish for about $100 million.

“It will use 10 million cubic yards (7.6 million cubic meters) of sediment — the highest volume from the Mississippi River to date,” the governor said. He said it will also be the Coastal Preservation and Restoration Authority’s largest ridge restoration project so far.

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Another, estimated at $102 million, will restore more than 371 acres (150 hectares) of beach and dune and 160 acres (64 hectares) of back barrier marsh on West Grand Terre Island northeast of Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish.

Once headquarters for the pirate Jean Lafitte and now the site of Fort Livingston, “it is one of the most historically and ecologically important barrier is-lands in Louisiana,” Edwards said.

The third, at an estimated $54 million, will create and nourish over 770 acres (311 hectares) of marsh in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, in an area where the now closed Mississippi River Gulf Outlet funneled Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge in 2005.

The largest continuous storm surge barrier in the world now protects people there, Edwards said.

“But even concrete and steel structures need the natural ecosystem to provide a buffer that only land and marsh can provide,” he said.