New Orleans will survive only as an island surrounded by miles of open water. It will take a national effort, led by our best scientists, engineers and city planners, to achieve even this reduced vision of an American Venice. We must take the time to redesign the city to function as an island, with an island infrastructure, including relocated streets, highways and utilities. The island will need higher, stronger seawalls and levees sufficient to withstand new threats, including the rising sea levels and bigger hurricanes spawned in warming Atlantic waters.
Sea levels are likely to rise two to three feet in this century. Coastal maps drawn from consensus estimates show that virtually all of the delta lands south of Baton Rouge and below Interstate 10 - some 5,000 square miles - will be submerged by the end of this century.
I suspect that construction project will happen right after the extension of the Disney Monorail from Anaheim to the Cardinal's Stadium in Glendale.
If this nation has demonstrated one thing, it is a profound lack of patience. Any day now, the chorus of "are we done yet?" will begin within the southeast.
In addition to having a great lack of patience, there is also an apparent lack of competence in the ability of government -- at any level -- to manage large infrastructure projects. Just take a look at the quality issues surrounding Boston's "Big Dig" and the wonderful transportation mess they call Denver.
Bruce, New Orleans, Newer Orleans, and Newest Orleans will never become an island fortress. It will be rebuilt in the same location, with the same weaknesses, and in about a century, another huge hurricane will come along and destroy the city -- and your great, great, great grandchildren will be wondering how this was allowed to happen.