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Parish leaders propose new ‘barrier island’ in St. Bernard

The $394 million project is “critical” protection for wetlands and levees, officials say
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 9:15 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Over the past several centuries, the Chandeleur Islands provided what locals often referred to as a “first line of defense” against hurricanes, knocking down surge and providing a buffer against winds and tides. The islands, a curved chain of uninhabited barrier islands, form the easternmost point on the Louisiana map.

As the marsh in Breton Sound erodes and sinks, the islands become more and more isolated from the wetlands.

St. Bernard Parish leaders acknowledge that the islands no longer provide the same level of protection as they push for the construction of a new island closer to the population center.

“We want to build a new barrier island,” said St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis, describing the project as critical to the protection of the remaining marsh in the Breton and Pontchartrain basins.

“We don’t want the Gulf beating up against our structure,” McInnis said. “Because then we lose more than just our culture and our heritage. We’re fighting for our lives at that point.”

Technically called the Black and Eloi Bay Ridge Restoration, the parish estimates the total project cost at $394.2 million, including $35.8 million in planning, engineering, and design and $358.4 million in construction costs.

While the parish is paying for some of the early design work, McInnis hopes to convince the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to include the work in the next version of the state’s Coastal Master Plan.

The project envisions a mix of marsh and forested ridge with elevations ranging from 3-7 feet.

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