‘Game Changing’ HNC project under way

Weather, economy will impact Morganza vote
May 16, 2012
Past protection proves profitable for St. Mary
May 16, 2012
Weather, economy will impact Morganza vote
May 16, 2012
Past protection proves profitable for St. Mary
May 16, 2012

Make no mistake about it, every little intricacy of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf project is important to the sustainability of our area.

But one particular segment perhaps holds a little more weight.

Local officials laud the importance that completing the Houma Navigational Canal will have on our area’s future in flood protection.

With construction already well under way, the project is scheduled to be fully finished by 2013 – a day that will likely go down as a bright day in the history of Terrebonne Parish.

“This is going to be huge,” Terrebonne Levee Board President Tony Alford said. “If we catch the right storm on the wrong day, it floods a lot of Terrebonne Parish. Having this structure in place will go a long way in preventing that from happening in the future. … There’s no other way to quantify it except to go back to where we started – it’s huge.”

Construction on the project started last summer after L&A Construction Co. won the job with the low bid of $39 million.

The funding for the project is coming from a mixture of local and state dollars.

L&A is building the floodgate’s structure and walls.

Bollinger Shipyard is constructing the floodgate complex’s barge.

Since getting to work, things have been going according to plan, according to Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation District Executive Director Reggie Dupre, who said L&A’s work is projected to be completed in May 2013, while Bollinger’s barge will be finished in October for installation to begin.

“This hurricane season, we won’t have it yet, because such a massive flood structure takes a long while to build,” Dupre said. “But everything seems to be on schedule and working good.”

“It’s going fantastic,” Alford added. “We’ve taken this on as a levee board and as a state. It’s the largest public works project ever to be done in this parish. And we’ve done it ourselves. … Things couldn’t be better. It’s going well. It’s a huge project, but it’s all going according to plan and we’re moving forward.”

Once complete, the massive structure will have tremendous impacts.

Measuring 110-feet wide and 800-feet long with a floodgate of 250-feet, the HNC floodgate will serve as an anchor of sorts to the entire Morganza to the Gulf levee system.

It will close during high water times and theoretically block floodwater and, thus, protect Terrebonne Parish.

“This will greatly prohibit water from coming straight up the navigational canal and flooding our parish,” Alford said. “This will affect us all. The whole Terrebonne Parish area, basically, will be better protected.”

“That floodgate will really slow down the waters,” Dupre said. “There will still be gaps in the system and water will still have places it can go around, but it just won’t be that direct channel from the Gulf of Mexico. Having that will be a major help and a tremendous benefit. … The city of Houma, specifically West Houma, Grand Caillou and Dularge will all be major beneficiaries of this project’s completion.”

Using history as a reference, Dupre and Alford both illustrate clearly why having this project finished will be a major victory.

Dupre said using water levels from previous storms, he has concluded that “90 percent of all hurricane flooding from the past would have been eliminated,” had a similar structure been in place with surrounding levees.

“That surely paints a nice outlook for the future for when it’s completed,” Dupre said.

Alford took it a step farther and continued to laud the monumental day it will be when the structure is in place.

“It will be a great day for Terrebonne Parish,” he said. “Having this will go a long way in helping to save and preserve our area.”