For Immediate Release: October 30, 2008
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA and Corps of Engineers Sign Agreement on MRGO Closure
BATON ROUGE -- Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials reached agreement on a memorandum of agreement late Wednesday, October 29 to begin work on a structure designed to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet in St. Bernard Parish by the beginning of the 2009 hurricane season.
The closure will consist of a rock dike spanning the width of the decommissioned shipping channel at the Bayou LaLoutre ridge near the town of Yscloskey in eastern St. Bernard Parish. Corps officials have vowed to have the closure built by June 2009.
"This agreement is extremely important to the effort to bring hurricane protection to vulnerable areas of St. Bernard and Orleans Parish," said Authority Chairman Garret Graves, who negotiated the document on behalf of the CPRA.
The MOA clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both the CPRA and the corps during the construction phase of the project.
According to the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, the closure of the MRGO is to be paid for at full federal expense.
The CPRA has volunteered to use its resources to acquire adjacent lands to expedite the completion of the project, according to CPRA Chairman Garret Graves.
"I want to be clear in saying that Louisiana is volunteering to use its money and resources to help the corps acquire lands and build this project because its closure is long-overdue," Graves said.
The MRGO is a controversial shipping channel that runs from the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans through St. Bernard Parish and into Breton Sound which is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Its construction began in the 1950's and it was designed as an alternative route to the Mississippi River for deep draft navigation to reach New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico.
However, the high volume of shipping traffic envisioned when it was designed was not realized and the channel has hastened wetland destruction in St. Bernard Parish by allowing saltwater intrusion into areas that were once fresh water and brackish marshes and swamps.
Wetland scientists and local officials have blamed the MRGO for acting as a conduit for storm surges that contributed to the flooding of St. Bernard Parish and parts of eastern New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
For more information, please contact CPRA Information Officer Chris Macaluso at (225) 342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.