"One to One" E-Newsletter

October 3, 2015

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CPRA Resolution to Apply Cost Savings Realized by Delivering RESTORE Act Projects Under-Budget to Advance LA 1 Improvements

As recent press reports indicate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has sought to capture savings from projects selected within the RESTORE Act process and utilize them in order to advance the LA 1 project. To be clear, such an effort in no way would divert conservation dollars to infrastructure, as LA 1 is directly eligible to receive RESTORE Act funding (Section 1603 of P.L. 112-141). The Restore Act clearly states that “infrastructure projects benefitting the economy or ecological resources, including port infrastructure” are eligible activities for expenditure of the Spill Impact Component funds.
Southern Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle were impacted more than any other parish from the 2010 oil spill and no highway infrastructure was more critical to the spill response effort than LA 1. Our region has worked very hard with Governor Jindal and our Congressional delegation to ensure that significant community resiliency projects like the LA 1 Improvement Project would be eligible for oil spill relief funds.
As a coalition of governmental agencies, NGOs and private industry which, when combined, represent thousands of workers, we have a civic responsibility and right to request this qualified investment in our region’s long-term economic and cultural sustainability.

“Here in Louisiana, fisheries coexist with oil and gas and restoration is intertwined with infrastructure.  Without projects like LA 1, we lose our ability to live and work on our coast, and ultimately lose the benefits of coastal restoration,” says Charlotte Bollinger, Board Member of LA 1 Coalition and Restore or Retreat.  
The LA 1 Coalition is grateful to the CPRA for its past support of the LA 1 Improvement Project and its continued recognition of both the contribution  of LA 1 to Louisiana’s long-term environmental and economic sustainability and the vulnerability under which the highway continues to serve our state and nation.  The resolution CPRA is advancing recognizes something that Louisianans live each day – the reality that a productive balance between the economy and conservation/restoration efforts can coexist to the benefit of us all.  Advancing two significant restoration/protection projects is a first principle with RESTORE Act, but building in a framework which intends to provide added resiliency to the LA 1 corridor is an appropriate and balanced use of these funds.
In addition to clarifying the CPRA proposal, we also want to make you aware of the following facts:
  • LA 1 was the primary and critical conduit for responding to the Macondo spill. Imagine the difficulties in responding to a spill if LA 1 were closed due to a storm event.
  • The corridor also provides access for wetlands and barrier island restoration projects in Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle, including the state’s largest project to date at the Caminada Headland. Reliable and safe access will play a critical role in supporting large-scale restoration projects funded by the RESTORE Act in the Barataria and Terrebonne basins.
  • Because LA 1 provides the only highway access to Port Fourchon and LOOP, a 2011 USDHS-NISAC/ULL-NIMSAT study estimates up to a $7.8 billion loss of Gross Domestic Product should the 7.1-mile section of at-grade LA 1 between Golden Meadow and Leeville be impassable for 90 days.
  • NOAA estimates that future relative sea level rise rates will require the road, if not elevated, to be closed 6 percent of the time in 2027. By 2047, that closure rate has been estimated to be 55 percent.
  • The LA 1 Improvement Project passed a comprehensive Environmental Impact Study process, and the Record of Decision to build the elevated highway is authorized by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in agreement with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • In a thorough and public review, spanning more than three years, all environmental permits were completed in 2004. These documents call for state of the art end-on construction, which nearly eliminates the construction impacts upon wetlands. The LA 1 project is designed with superstructure clearing the FEMA base flood elevation.
  • The improvements are estimated to eliminate four fatal crashes per year, and the traveling public could expect a 57 percent reduction in all types of crashes with the construction of eight-feet-wide shoulders on the 19 mile elevated structure.
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