Cao Inspects New Orleans East Surge Barrier Construction Site

August 31, 2010

NEW ORLEANS – Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) on Monday inspected the progress of construction on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) surge barrier, a key link in the federal government’s $14 billion upgrade to the flood protection system throughout Greater New Orleans.

Officers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guided Cao on a tour of the concrete and steel barrier, which runs two miles along the marshes at the confluence of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) between Lake Borgne and developed sections of New Orleans East.

Cao’s entourage boated through the newly-constructed barge gate, docked at the base of the barrier and climbed the 26-foot-high wall to view construction in progress on the sector gate and the vertical lift gate. Once completed, the gates will be closed only during major storms to keep flood waters out of New Orleans East, metro New Orleans, the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

Congress authorized the $1.3 billion surge barrier in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina demonstrated dire need for enhanced flood protection in southeast Louisiana.

Surge waters channeled from the Gulf of Mexico through MRGO and Lake Borgne were blamed for much of the flooding that inundated vast stretches of the New Orleans metropolitan area, including the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Last year, MRGO was permanently closed with a rock dam as construction on the surge barrier proceeded.

Cao said, “the Corps informs me the wall itself is more than 95 percent complete, and construction is running right on schedule, perhaps even a little ahead of schedule, and the barrier system should be operational on or before the target date of June, 2011.”

Cao expressed satisfaction at the pace of progress, saying, “We cannot afford to risk exposure to another hurricane season without enhanced flood protection. Putting this barrier into service will greatly advance our recovery in providing assurance that what happened five years ago is not likely to happen again.”

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