Coastal restoration funds announced recently by Gov. John Bel Edwards include about $23 million for the Lafitte area, which is making headway on the jigsaw puzzle of ring levees designed to keep floodwaters at bay in a populated area outside the federal hurricane and storm surge protection system.
The funding targets the Rosethorne Basin area in the northern end of Jean Lafitte and a partially completed ring levee just south of Goose Bayou Bridge in Lafitte.
When those projects are completed, in about two years, those sections will be protected from floodwaters as high as 7½ feet above sea level.
Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner said the $11 million for Rosethorne will put an earthen levee on the marsh side of the basin that will connect to a metal sheet-pile levee that is already funded to go along Bayou Barataria.
The $11.7 million for Goose Bayou will go toward the sheet-pile levee along the eastern side of Bayou Barataria between Goose Bayou Bridge on the north end and the canal that bisects Lafitte to the south. This will connect with an already-completed portion along the body of water known as The Pen on the backside.
“We’re very excited,” Kerner said. “That’s an area that floods all the time.”
Kerner said the two projects will begin in the next six months and will take about a year and a half to construct. If any money is left over, he said, it will be put toward levees around the next sections: the Lower Lafitte Basin, which is just south of the Goose Bayou area, and Barataria’s Pailet Basin on the west side of the bayou farther north.
When completed, the 10 ring levees would protect the town of Jean Lafitte and the unincorporated communities of Lafitte, Barataria and Crown Point. The system is being constructed under the jurisdiction of the Lafitte Area Independent Levee Board.
Kerner said the patchwork nature of the levee system stems from the funding strategy that has been pursued for decades. By carving it up into sections, officials are able to cobble together small amounts from a variety of sources and tackle the problem piece by piece.
“It’s a big puzzle that we put together,” he said.
Construction has just begun on a stretch of levee at the bend in the bayou in Jean Lafitte that will officially complete the first ring levee of the system, known as the Fisher School Basin.