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October 6, 2021 10:30 AM, EDT

Louisiana Gains Emergency Federal Funds, Rural Assistance

Hurricane Ida cleanup Highway workers clear debris after Hurricane Ida in Destrehan, La. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden recently enacted a government funding bill that provides nearly $30 billion in emergency aid to assist Louisiana and the nearby region that are still recovering from Hurricane Ida.

State officials say the funding will assist with recovery efforts and mobility improvements. Various transportation corridors were hard-hit after the natural disaster.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure panel, endorsed the emergency funding, included in legislation that maintains federal government funding through Dec. 3.

“We are exactly one month from Hurricane Ida making landfall and our efforts to deliver hurricane recovery assistance for the citizens of south Louisiana is already paying off. We have folks living in tents back home without electricity while politicians are arguing in Washington, D.C., about how many tens of trillions in debt is an acceptable amount when mortgaging our children and grandchildren’s future. They tried to politicize the aid last week and despite the chaos, we were able to get some wins,” said the congressman.

Graves continued, “This bill will provide direct assistance to individuals and families to help rebuild communities and homes.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, added, “This is critical for our communities and people to rebuild their lives. It took too long, especially for those in southwest Louisiana, but getting this done is a huge win for our state.”

Separately, freight and commuter corridors vital to rural connectivity in the state will gain federal funds, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced recently.

“If you even glance at the storm damage levied on Louisiana over the last year, you know our people need disaster relief. I’m thankful the Senate did the right thing by voting to send aid to our state, extend the flood insurance program Louisianians depend on and keep the government open,” observed Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the budget committee.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission was provided a direct loan for $36.4 million to facilitate the completion of a pair of projects. The Union Pacific Railroad Overpass Project in Morehouse Parish and the state Highway 3241/Highway 435-40 segment 3 in St. Tammany Parish are part of a four-project program meant to assist with congestion reduction and improve roadway safety in rural parts of the state. Traffic congestion is a major impediment in commerce, contributing to reductions in efficiency and productivity, according to freight stakeholders.

RELATED: FHWA Issues Emergency Relief Funding to Louisiana

In recent years, the department has ramped up its efforts to address needs across rural regions. By relying on TIFIA loans along with the rural project initiative, funding has increased for projects across rural corridors. The initiative, according to the department, aims to assist communities that “frequently find it challenging to identify the financial resources required to fund critical infrastructure projects, which are key to improving the economy and the quality of life of all Americans.”

“Without adequate roads, bridges, tunnels, freight and transit systems, rural communities often lack efficient transportation access to medical care, get to school and work, or even the grocery store,” per background the department has made available.

The department noted it has issued availability for grants targeting rural projects with the goal of promoting the economy and improving safety. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan is managed by the department’s Build America Bureau. The bureau is designed to assist with costs and advance the completion of major projects.

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