Gov. John Bel Edwards today joined the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) as well as local and state officials to break ground on the Houma Navigation Canal (HNC) Lock Complex and announce the completion of the Grand Bayou Floodgate, two critical components of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System.
With the completion of the 147-foot Grand Bayou Floodgate, the Morganza to the Gulf system now has a continuous levee segment stretching 47 miles from Grand Bayou in Lafourche Parish to upper Bayou Dularge in Terrebonne Parish to prevent floodwaters from impacting the region. The newly completed floodgate was named in honor of the late Louisiana Rep. Reggie Bagala, who passed away from complications due to COVID-19 in April 2020.
“Today we are announcing two substantial advances in our efforts to provide Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes with 100-year storm surge protection,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Grand Bayou Floodgate will honor Rep. Bagala’s memory while providing improved hurricane protection to the people and place he called home. This project, combined with the soon to begin HNC Lock Complex, are game-changers for the entire Morganza to the Gulf system.”
The Morganza to the Gulf system will benefit approximately 1,900 square miles in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes through flood control, salinity control, and ecosystem restoration.
“The road to strengthening the Morganza to the Gulf system and providing the Bayou Region with upgraded hurricane protection has been paved by hard work and collaboration with parish governments and levee districts,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said. “We’re thrilled to announce such meaningful progress toward our shared goal of providing a safer and better protected future for those in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.”
Phase 1 of the HNC Lock Complex project will dredge over 1 million cubic yards of material to prepare the area for the lock complex and create 178 acres of marsh in six areas north of the complex along the navigation channel. Phase 1 is anticipated to be complete in the fall of 2022.
The HNC Lock will allow a longer window of opportunity for navigation activities when the adjacent Bubba Dove Floodgate is closed to protect communities from storm surge or high water events. During gate closures, the lock will allow vessels to travel in either direction on the HNC, enabling officials to close the floodgate earlier and keep it closed longer, benefiting the area’s ecosystem suffering from saltwater intrusion.
Terrebonne Parish President Gordon “Gordy” Dove and Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson joined the Governor for the announcements and praised the projects for enhancing the Morganza to the Gulf system’s hurricane protection capabilities.
“The Grand Bayou Floodgate is a critical link in the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection system,” Dove said. “We are delighted with its completion and express our thanks to Gov. Edwards and CPRA. In the foreseeable future, the Morganza levee will rise to 18 feet, its full design height, providing both Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes with considerably more storm surge protection. The HNC Lock complex is a companion piece to the ‘Bubba Dove’ Floodgate, and will allow marine traffic to effectively bypass the floodgate when it’s required to be closed to protect against storm surge and saltwater intrusion. Terrebonne Parish has worked very closely with CPRA and the Levee District to bring this project to its long-awaited start.”
“The new Grand Bayou Floodgate is another tool to help protect our residents and I’m glad to see construction being completed,” Chaisson said. “This culminates the work of a lot of agencies over many years and will help protect our residents for years to come. Additionally, to see this structure dedicated to Rep. Bagala defines what the people of Lafourche are about. Hard work, dedication, and resilience are three things that Reggie stood for and three words that mean so much to so many in Lafourche Parish.”
The HNC Lock Complex is a joint effort of CPRA and the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District. A tentative bid date for construction of Phase 2 of the lock structure, which will include an 800-foot lock chamber with 110-foot-wide sector gates, is anticipated in spring 2022.
Engineering, design, and construction for Phases 1 and 2 of the HNC Lock Complex are funded with money resulting from the damages of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, allocated through the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act).
Construction of the Grand Bayou Floodgate was funded by $18.5 million in Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds and $1.5 million in capital outlay funds. The project is a collaborative effort of CPRA with the South Lafourche Levee District, North Lafourche Levee District, Lafourche Parish Government, Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, and Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.
Sealevel Construction, Inc., headquartered in Thibodaux, won the competitively bid dredging contract for the lock site, as well as the contract for construction of the Grand Bayou Floodgate and Receiving Structure.