For Immediate Release: March 25, 2010
Contact: Chris Macaluso
State Gets $24.1 Million from Minerals Management Service to Continue Elevation of La. Hwy. 1
BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana coastal protection and restoration officials received $24.1 million today from the Minerals Management Service (MMS) through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) to continue work to elevate Louisiana Hwy. 1 between the towns of Leeville and Port Fourchon in southern Lafourche Parish.
The funds have been deposited into the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund and, along with $8.8 million previously awarded, will be used to reimburse the state Department of Transportation and Development for the construction of five miles of elevated highway from the Leeville Bridge to Fourchon.
Elevating the highway will ensure the safe transport of supplies and a safe evacuation route for workers and residents of Port Fourchon and Grand Isle as water levels rise during strong winter storms, tropical storms and hurricanes.
"The state Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Lafourche Parish and the Department of Transportation and Development have been working to improve and elevate Highway 1 for the last three years because we desperately needed to provide a safe route to the hundreds of vehicles that bring supplies to and from Port Fourchon on a daily basis and to the residents of Fourchon and Grand Ilse," said Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves. "Port Fourchon is vital to the energy security of our nation and we need to ensure it can remain functional even during coastal floods. Louisiana is aggressively moving forward with infrastructure and ecosystem restoration projects that will make our coast more sustainable and our communities safer."
Port Fourchon is the largest offshore oil and gas exploration supply port in the United States, servicing facilities that provide nearly one-fifth of the nation's domestic and foreign oil and natural gas.
"We have long been saying that this critical highway provides the access to the riches of the Gulf," said Ted Falgout, retired longtime Port Fourchon director who now chairs the LA. 1 Coalition. "It is great to see the federal government indicating the realization that we must invest in this type of infrastructure if we want to sustain the ability to access these resources."
CIAP was established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 and provides funds to offset the impacts of offshore oil and gas activities on onshore ecosystems and infrastructure. In all, Louisiana is set to receive more than $490 million in CIAP funds through the 2010 fiscal year with 65 percent of those funds going to the state and 35 percent to the 19 coastal parishes.
MMS required the six states that qualified for the program to submit plans detailing projects to be built in advance of the release of funds. Louisiana was the first state to submit a plan, have the plan approved and build a project using CIAP funds. Funds are being released by MMS through an additional grant process applied for on a per-project basis.
Lafourche Parish is awaiting an additional $1.6 million in CIAP funds to further advance construction of Hwy. 1.
"It is very encouraging that the federal government is recognizing the importance of this major highway by contributing such a large sum toward furthering its completion," said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph. "Lafourche Parish and the rest of the nation are reliant upon safe access to Port Fourchon and the energy source it serves."
Louisiana's CIAP was administered by the Department of Natural Resources during its development. Administration of the program was transferred to the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration in 2009.
"I am pleased to see that additional funding is going to support the important role this state and Port Fourchon play in fueling this nation, recognizing its value to the U.S. economy and the need to act to protect our coastal energy infrastructure,"DNR Secretary Scott Angelle said. "That highway is critical to both lives and livelihoods in this state."
For more information about Louisiana's coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at (225) 342-3972 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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 marshaling the expertise and resources of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration 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.