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CPRA and TLCD Announce Houma Navigation Canal Lock Complex Moving to Phase 2 Construction

February 21, 2024

BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District (TLCD) are pleased to announce that the Houma Navigation Canal (HNC) Lock Complex project is moving into Phase 2 construction. TLCD awarded the construction contract, valued at more than $300 million, to SeaLevel Construction, Inc., a Louisiana-based company headquartered in Thibodaux.

This effort is being funded through a grant using funds from the Spill Impact Component of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) administered by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). This is the largest grant awarded by the RESTORE Council for any project to date.

“Protection and restoration of Louisiana’s coast requires a suite of coordinated, large-scale projects that can deliver maximum benefits to rebuild ecosystems and reduce land loss, while also protecting communities and major economic activities,” said CPRA Chairman Gordon “Gordy” Dove. “Construction of the long-anticipated HNC Lock Complex is a critical component of that effort and exemplifies how coastal protection and restoration efforts can be integrated.”

Highlighted in both Louisiana’s 2023 Coastal Master Plan and 2023 Annual Plan, the HNC Lock Complex is a key component of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection system and will offer ecological protection and economic benefits.

“The HNC Lock Complex is the most important feature of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Risk Reduction Project,” said TLCD Board President and CPRA Board Member Anthony “Tony” Alford. “It will have huge environmental benefits as well as providing a major safe harbor for mariners during tropics emergencies throughout South Central Louisiana. This project protects our people, our property, our culture, our economy, and our coast.”

The HNC Lock Complex is a large-scale hydrologic restoration project that will help limit saltwater intrusion and distribute freshwater within the Terrebonne Basin, allowing for the maintenance of thousands of acres of wetlands, which serve as critical wildlife habitat and nurseries for fisheries. Once constructed, the HNC Lock Complex will span 110 feet across and stand 800 feet high with gates on either side, directly adjacent to the existing 250-foot-wide Bubba Dove barge floodgate.

The two components will be tied together by a braced flood wall across the channel and work in concert to allow larger ships to pass through the canal. The HNC Lock Complex will also close one of the few remaining gaps of the Morganza to the Gulf hurricane protection system, which uses a mix of levees, floodgates, and locks to protect 150,000 Terrebonne and Lafourche residents from potentially deadly storm surge.

“Moving into Phase 2 of the HNC Lock Complex is an exciting step for our people and our ecosystem,” said Terrebonne Parish President Jason Bergeron. “Controlling the saltwater intrusion and abnormally high tides that have negatively impacted the HNC for decades will help us protect our land and allow the ecosystem to thrive. I want to thank TLCD and the CPRA for their continued efforts to see this project through to completion.”

Phase 2 includes construction of Inland and Gulf-side gates as well as the lock chamber to complete the HNC Lock Complex. The Phase 2 portion also includes the completion of the operations area, the control building, and the 175-foot control building access bridge. This phase also consists of hydraulically dredging approximately 135,000 cubic yards of material from the HNC to reestablish 15 acres of brackish marsh habitat, benefiting the area’s ecosystem and wildlife.

Legislators representing Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, including State Rep. Jerome “Zee” Zeringue and State Rep. Jessica Domangue, celebrated the announcement of the grant award and the advancement of the construction of the HNC Lock Complex.

“Within the Terrebonne Estuarine complex we are extremely limited in opportunities to restore and maintain our productive ecosystem,” said Zeringue. “The HNC Lock Complex will provide significant protection from storms and saltwater intrusion, in addition to maximizing our ability to capture and utilize freshwater within our region.”

“Moving into Phase 2 of this project is a huge step toward offering the people of South Central Louisiana additional flood protection and safeguarding our unique ecosystem,” Domangue said. “The construction phase of this project is very exciting as we see structures built to continue progress on the Morganza to the Gulf system.”

The RESTORE Act contains five different funding components, one of which directs 30 percent of the funds to each of the five Gulf Coast States based on a formula established by regulation for expenditure for ecological and economic restoration of the Gulf Coast region (the Spill Impact Component). In order for a Gulf Coast state to receive funding under the Spill Impact Component of the RESTORE Act, the states must first submit a plan to the RESTORE Council for the expenditure of Trust Fund monies through that funding component. The State of Louisiana was the first state to have a Spill Impact Component plan accepted by the RESTORE Council, a plan guided by the state’s Coastal Master Plan.