COAST IN CRISIS: Coastal restoration project in Orleans Parish aims to provide hurricane protection

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 11:41 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Near the easternmost part of New Orleans, in a marshy area that straddles US Hwy. 90, a pipe spits out new land.

Mud from a dredge has traveled 5,000 feet, from Lake Saint Catherine into a containment area.

The project along what is called the New Orleans Landbridge is building or sustaining 284 acres of marsh, according to Micaela Conor, project manager for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The landbridge is a sliver of real estate that roughly stretches from Chef Pass to the Rigolets near the Orleans-St. Tammany parish line.

The $25 million in funding flows from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Authority, a federal and state task force administering a pot of federal money set aside for coastal projects.

“Mostly, this marsh was affected by tropical storms and hurricanes,” Conor said. “That’s how we’ve lost a lot of marsh in this area.”

Hurricane Katrina alone shredded an estimated 70 acres along the landbridge, which separates Lakes Catherine and Pontchartrain.

“Without the integrity of these lake forms, if it were to open up, it would become open water.”

If the lakes were to merge, that would raise the storm surge threat in New Orleans and other communities ringing Lake Pontchartrain.

“This newly-created land is going to serve as a buffer,” Conor said. “When tropical storms and hurricanes come along, this land -- that maybe you don’t see everyday -- it helps protect us.”

In addition to the dredging, contractors are installing concrete mats to provide shoreline protection in the hope of preventing further erosion.

The project also provides habitat for birds and other animals in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

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