Three of the four major candidates for governor Monday criticized one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s pet projects, a policy change that would allow future savings from coastal restoration work to finance a major highway project in the coastal area.
Obviously, candidates are in the promising mode shortly before an election and expressed their support for more work on La. 1 to Port Fouchon. But the candidates — Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne and John Bel Edwards — opposed diversions of the coastal money.
They are right, and Jindal is wrong on this one.
Even with a large check from the BP oil spill settlement, Louisiana will continue pushing for federal assistance to make much larger investments in what is estimated to be — conservatively — a $50 billion coastal restoration plan.
To rob coastal restoration funds for a road project would signal that the coastal money can be diverted for other public works, the candidates said.
We agree that it’s a bad precedent as future governors plead for assistance on coastal restoration.
Jindal wants to take project savings from coastal restoration work funded by the Deepwater Horizon payments and use that money to help pay for the elevation work on La. 1 from Port Fourchon to points north.
The policy change on the money is a decision of the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority . We urge members to reject the idea.
We do not disagree with the governor or the candidates that elevation of Highway 1, as it is commonly known, is a vital project. In fact, at about $300 million away from completion, it’s a project that will require an infusion of money from some source.
We think that the money shouldn't come from coastal priorities. Members of CPRA have, for years, argued that the board ought to avoid diversions of its money. Even after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some members of Congress questioned federal aid for Louisiana. If we’re asking in the future for more federal aid for Louisiana’s coast, we’re going to have to defend every dime of spending for the BP settlement. Any suggestions that we are pork-barreling this money will be held against us.
“If the CPRA board votes to redirect coastal restoration funds to the bridge project, it could undermine the CPRA’s widely praised master plan, which was approved just three years ago,” the Bureau of Governmental Research commented. “The plan rightly characterizes Louisiana’s land loss as an existential crisis that must be addressed using all available resources.”
The new proposal fails that test.
Long-term thinking is needed at this time. We urge the CPRA to keep that in mind when making this decision.