New bill would increase criminal penalties for abortion providers in Louisiana

Bayou railroad modification made official

Greg Fischer
Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana's 6th District and Chairman of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District Hugh Caffery do the honors.

An idea that is discussed for several years and finally brought into fruition is usually a big deal. But an idea that has been discussed since the 70's is huge--especially when it involves bringing cleaner drinking water to more than 300,000 citizens of Louisiana.

The completion of the Union Pacific Railroad Modification, located between LA-1 and E Bayou Road in Donaldsonville, does just that.

In a historic ribbon-cutting ceremony, held February 21, 2017, officials from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District presented their achievement to the public.

"We thank the public in general for being a part of this," Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan said. "We support the project to stop the saltwater intrusion into the bayou." The mayor also stressed the importance of the project for the economy of Donaldsonville.

"If there's anything we can do for tourism to attract people to the city of Donaldsonville, we want to do it," Sullivan said. He mentioned using the revamped bayou area for a park with canoeing, paddle-boarding, and recreational fishing.

"We work together here in Ascension," Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa said. "They took that bridge out so quick. It was all designed so perfectly, and they did a great job." Matassa added that once the pumping station is complete, the project also helps the quality of drinking water for the rest of the parish.

Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana's 6th District was also part of the program. Graves and Hugh Caffery, Chairman of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District, shared the honor of cutting the ribbon. Graves offered a brief history of the project to the audience of about 50 people.

"In 2007 Congress authorized literally billions of dollars in restorations projects for Louisiana . . . This project has been talked about and talked about and talked about until 2008," Graves said. "Robert Routon and David Peterson, who at the time worked at the attorney general's office, grabbed this project and they did it."

Graves brought it back to the 1970's to stress the many difficulties in getting the project completed. He added that at least 12 entities were involved.

Before the project, the railroad rolled right over the bayou. It made it extremely difficult for freshwater from the Mississippi to get through. Considering that Bayou Lafourche runs all the way to the Gulf of Mexico through cities such as Thibodaux, Raceland, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadow, and Port Fourchon, where residents rely on the bayou for their drinking water, this is monumental.

The flow is now better controlled by a pumping system in Donaldsonville. It should aid in prevention of saltwater moving up the bayou closer to the gulf.

"Lastly, a lot of times people look at everything going on in Louisiana," Graves said, "all the water issues here, we have railroads going all over the place, and often times you see things conflicting with one another. But the great thing in this case is that everybody worked together. That railroad right there is absolutely vital to our economy.

"This project ends up benefitting the environment all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico."

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