Sea-Level Rise LogoBy 2027, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the road that keeps 16 % of the nation’s oil and gas production operational will flood so often it will have to be closed more than 30 days a year. Conservatively, the road is sinking 7.2 millimeters a year and faces about 2 mm a year of sea-level rise. Within 40 years, the road could be impassable for more than 300 days a year.

A 2011 Dept. of Homeland Security study determined that a 90-day closure of the road — Louisiana 1, the only access road to Port Fourchon, which services much of the oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico—would result in a loss of up to $7.8 billion in gross domestic product.

Despite its importance, funding to raise Louisiana 1 has been scarce from both federal and state sources, which are stretched thin and often go to more immediate infrastructure concerns.

A $370-million section of the road has been elevated and partly paid for by a toll on the road. At least another $360 million will be needed to raise the remaining portion of the highway.  When complete, the roadway will be able to withstand a 14-ft storm surge.

The nonprofit LA 1 Coalition has been advocating for funding to raise the road for more than a decade. In 2016, the coalition secured from BHP Billiton $500,000, which the coalition hopes to leverage as matching funds if and when it secures federal funding.

How Engineers Are Preparing for Sea-Level Rise