[StBernard] Mississippi River Gulf Outlet now blocked with 352, 000 tons of rock
westley at da-parish.com
Fri Jul 24 23:03:29 EDT 2009
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet now blocked with 352,000 tons of rock
by St. Bernard Bureau, The Times-Picayune
Friday July 24, 2009, 9:43 AM
Construction of the barrier closing off the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet is
now complete, the Army Corps of Engineers said.
The barrier in the waterway 1,500 feet southeast of Bayou La Loutre in rural
St. Bernard Parish is made of 352,000 tons of rock. It cost $11.2 million
and took Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co. of Arkansas six months to build, the
corps said in a news release Thursday. It was completed on July 9.
The channel, built in the 1960s, cuts through St. Bernard Parish and was
designed to provide a shipping shortcut from the Mississippi River to the
Gulf of Mexico.
Over the years, the channel was blamed for the loss of thousands of acres of
protective wetlands. And after Hurricane Katrina, many elected officials and
residents of St. Bernard Parish, eastern New Orleans and the 9th Ward loudly
criticized the waterway as the cause of the deadly flooding that decimated
The corps, citing its own studies, contended the channel's effect on
flooding was overblown, but noting the decline in shipping traffic over the
years, it recommended the channel be closed.
The corps is working with federal and state agencies to produce a
supplemental plan to restore the area's wetlands.
The closure structure stretches 950 feet across the MR-GO. It is 450 feet
wide at the bottom, narrowing to 12 feet at the top, the corps said. It juts
7 feet above the water level.
Corps and St. Bernard Parish authorities have urged boaters to use extreme
caution in the area around the barrier.
"Thanks to the hard work of the corps team, our contractor and our
stakeholders, we were able to complete this project ahead of schedule, "
Col. Alvin Lee, commander of the corps' New Orleans District, said in a news
release. "With completion of the MR-GO closure structure, attention can be
turned to future work in the area, which will include ecosystem restoration
projects to protect and rebuild coastal wetlands."
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