METAIRIE, La. — What is now a largely desolate area along the lakefront in Bucktown will soon get new life as an outdoor classroom.

Jefferson Parish leaders on Friday afternoon broke ground on the new Bucktown Harbor educational boardwalk and marsh overlook.

Bucktown Boardwalk Lookout
Jefferson Parish

The boardwalk will cut through the 3.5-acre manmade marsh and nature preserve.

Along its 1,000 feet, people will be able to stop to learn about coastal issues in their own backyard. The boardwalk will also feature bird blinds and informational signs about plants, wildlife, fisheries and the coast.

“This is something very close to home for a lot of people. They can come out, see some natural wetlands, enjoy the lake and enjoy the bird life,” said John Lopez, director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's Coastal Sustainability Program. “It's just a reminder of the values we have with our coast and why it's so important.”

PREVIOUSLY: Plans unveiled for Bucktown Harbor

Jefferson Parish leaders also cut the ribbon on two new recreational pavilions in the park at the harbor, located across the levee at Old Hammond Highway and Lake Avenue.

"So many people cross the levee and say, 'I didn't realize this is here,'" said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrencken, in whose district the harbor is located.

The boardwalk is estimated to cost $1.7 million, with $57,000 in grant funding coming from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Work is expected to wrap by March 2020.

The boardwalk is part of a larger plan for the Bucktown Harbor.

Parish leaders hope to also eventually build a children's playground, great lawn -- similar to the one in New Orleans' City Park -- and a permanent space for the weekly farmer's market.

Also planned is the return of the footbridge over the 17th Street Canal that was removed after Hurricane Katrina.