State plans to $668 million on coastal work in FY 2015

The state expects to spend $668 million on coastal restoration and protection work during fiscal year 2015, with almost two-thirds of the money going toward construction of projects as opposed to planning or design, according to the draft annual plan released Thursday by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The annual plan details yearly expected revenue and spending on items and projects outlined in the state’s master plan, the latest of which was approved by the state legislature in 2012.

“The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is approaching Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 with a focus on developing and constructing bigger and bolder projects as well as a dedication to continuing the development of tools that will inform planning, design and implementation of our work,” said Garret Graves, CPRA chairman, in an email.

“We continue to utilize innovative solutions to maximize available funding and ensure that every dollar invested is used as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

There will be three meetings to get public comment on the draft annual plan. The meetings will also provide an opportunity to obtain feedback for the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees about the draft early restoration plan and environmental impact statement.

The draft annual plan includes the proposed spending of $668 million in fiscal year 2015 starting July 1 and would include $416 million for construction, $66 million for engineering and design of new projects, and $67.9 million for planning.

The list of 52 projects expected to either begin or continue construction in fiscal year 2015 includes marsh and ridge creation around Bayou Dupont in Jefferson Parish, bank restoration along certain areas of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Terrebonne Parish, bank stabilization along Freshwater Bayou in Vermilion Parish and continued work restoring the beaches and dunes along Caminada Headland in Lafourche Parish.

In addition, the money will go toward planning of five projects and the design of 28 additional projects.

The revenue to fund the $668 million in projects is coming from a variety of sources, including oil spill-related money, Community Development Block Grants, state surplus money from 2007, 2008 and 2009, and money from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund.

The public meetings will be held on the following dates and locations. At each, the open house will begin at 5:30 p.m. with presentations beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 14, Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 La. 23, Belle Chasse.

Wednesday, Jan. 15, Warren J. Harang Jr. Municipal Auditorium, Plantation Room, 310 N. Canal Blvd., Thibodaux.

Thursday, Jan. 16, Spring Hill Suites Lake Charles, Pelican Room, 1551 W. Prien Lake Road, Lake Charles.