Commerce Department Grants Target Infrastructure Improvements in Texas, California

Aerial of Houston after Harvey
Highways around downtown Houston are empty on Aug. 29, 2017, as floodwaters from Harvey overflow the bayous. (David J. Phillip/AP)

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Texas and California are the recipients of federal grants meant to enhance infrastructure projects essential for freight connectivity, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced recently.

Responding to the impact of severe weather events that disrupted mobility across South Texas, the agency indicated it would provide $48 million to assist agencies with preparedness efforts and expansion projects.

Areas in Texas receiving grant funding include the city of West Orange, which will receive $5 million for the design and construction of a wastewater treatment plant.

Lamar State College-Port Arthur will receive $4.8 million for the renovation of a training center for commercial drivers. The city of Dayton will receive $4.8 million for various improvements for the Gulf Inland Logistics Park, which has access to freight rail. And Corpus Christi will receive $3 million to proceed with roadway improvements to expand industrial development.

“The Trump Administration’s goal is to create American jobs and to keep U.S. business communities competitive and thriving,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement Sept. 30. “These preparedness efforts will support uninterrupted, stable and growing business efforts in the state of Texas.”

On Capitol Hill, members of the Texas delegation who represent that region said they welcomed the grants.

“This grant to Corpus Christi will help improve and rebuild the city’s roads which in turn will expand the city’s economic opportunities,” said Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), who sits on the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“I was proud to support Dayton’s application for vital federal disaster grant funding to support and expand its existing city infrastructure and industrial growth,” added Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure panel.



Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), also on the Transportation and Infrastructure panel, emphasized the impact Hurricane Harvey had on the state. As he put it, “The hurricane cost Texans $125 billion in damage and cost the Houston Metro area nearly 25,000 jobs.

“Tropical Storm Imelda further complicated our recovery efforts — we are still awaiting damage totals. Although economic recovery efforts and flood preparedness have improved since Harvey, there is more work to be done. These grants are a step in the right direction to stimulate job growth and get Texans on the path to a full economic recovery.”

In 2017, Harvey ravaged the Houston area, resulting in massive flooding and destroying freight and commuter corridors.

In California, the department is awarding agencies $7.3 million to repair infrastructure, as well as boost workforce training programs.

Mariposa County will receive $6.29 million for repairs to road, water and sewer infrastructure across commercial areas. The Stanislaus Business Alliance of Modesto would receive the rest of the grant for training students in machining and manufacturing.

Severe flooding and storms in recent years have affected transportation networks in California.

“President Trump is committed to rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure and reskilling America’s workforce to grow industry both around the country and in specially designated Opportunity Zones,” Ross said in a separate statement.

The Economic Development Agency grants aim to enhance competitiveness as well as help with job creation.

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