The largest coastal restoration construction job the state has ever awarded was announced Wednesday with a $145.7 million contract to finish rebuilding the Caminada Headland just west of Grand Isle.
Kyle Graham, executive director of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, told the state board Wednesday that it is not only the largest construction contract the state has ever awarded, but it’s the largest contract the recipient, Weeks Marine, has ever received.
Construction on the $70 million first phase of the project started in August 2013 and involved dredging material from offshore before pumping it to the beach area just south of Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish. The project rebuilt six miles of dune and beach, and included building or restoring 303 acres.
Money for the first phase came from a combination of state and parish money from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program and $30 million in 2008 state surplus money.
Funding for the second phase comes from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is in charge of distributing $2.5 billion from BP and Transocean plea agreements in the aftermath of the massive oil spill.
The foundation announced the approval of the second phase of the project in April. This second phase will continue moving the project an additional seven miles farther east and create 489 acres of beaches and dunes.
Both projects are using a material offshore known as Ship Shoal that is known for having good quality sand for beach and dune construction. This ancient and now buried delta remnant was seen as a potential source for years, but the difficulties of transporting material from this site 27 miles from Caminada Headland and getting federal permits for the dredging were stumbling blocks.
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management agreed to the dredging in 2012 and technology for transporting material has improved to the point that it became possible.
The material is dredged at the Ship Shoal site, loaded onto barges and then shipped to the shoreline where it is then pumped into place through large pipes.
The Caminada headland project is meant to help repair some of the high rates of erosion the section of land has experienced. The state estimates that some areas averaged as much as 35 feet of erosion per year from storms, wave action, sea level rise and the sinking of the land. The headland is seen as a protection to not only Port Fourchon to the north, but also La. 1, the road into Grand Isle.
Construction on this second phase should start in the late spring 2015 and will take up to two years to complete.
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