Governor issues order to expedite hurricane protection project

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Thursday, October 23 that will help to expedite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' effort to build an essential hurricane protection project for eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish...

BATON ROUGE, LA, Oct. 24, 2008 -- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Thursday, October 23, that will help to expedite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' effort to build an essential hurricane protection project for eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

Executive Order No. BJ 2008-105 will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to access the necessary land to begin construction of the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal hurricane surge barrier in the area known as the "Golden Triangle," near the confluence of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman, Garret Graves said, "the completion of IHNC interim protection for 2009 and permanent surge barrier protection for 2011 will address the Achilles' Heel of the New Orleans area protection system. This executive order is critical to keeping this project on schedule and protecting the New Orleans area."

According to the Corps of Engineers, "the purpose of the project is to provide a comprehensive, integrated protection system that would reduce the imminent and continuing threat to life, health and property posed by flooding from hurricanes and other tropical storm events."

Advanced measures for the system of floodwalls and floodgates will be in place by the beginning of the 2009 hurricane season and will provide an increased level of hurricane protection while the final features of the project are being built, according to the Corps.

The project is designed to block hurricane storm surge from Lake Borgne from entering the Industrial Canal and threatening areas that were inundated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and threatened again by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in September.

"Hurricane Katrina pushed 28 feet of water into this channel opening -- causing failure of the floodwalls. Storm surge from Hurricane Gustav threatened the IHNC walls once again. The money is in place, Congress has given the Corps the go-ahead, this project needs to be built," Graves said.

The CPRA signed a project partnership agreement with the Corps of Engineers April 1, 2008 that allows the project to move forward. Corps of Engineers officials provided detailed information on property acquisition to the CPRA on Wednesday, October 22. The Corps will need access to the land as early as Friday, October 24 to begin surveying and laying the groundwork for the project's construction.

"This executive order is of the utmost importance to the efforts by both the State of Louisiana and the Corps of Engineers to provide hurricane protection to the areas of New Orleans and St Bernard Parish that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and threatened again this year," Graves said. "We cannot afford any delays in the building of this essential protection structure."

All landowners will be compensated for the use or acquisition of their property in accordance with Corps of Engineers' guidelines.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.

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