Louisiana has secured the federal funds necessary to complete the long-delayed Comite River Diversion Canal, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves says.
Nearly $1.4 billion in funding from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been awarded to Louisiana for flood and hurricane protection projects, Graves’ office announced this afternoon.
The money is coming from five different federal funding streams, Graves says, and will be used for the following projects:
- $343 million to fully fund the Comite River Diversion Canal
- Another $255 million for flood control projects in East Baton Rouge Parish, which would improve drainage for five different bayous
- About $760 million for the West Shore Hurricane Protection Project in St. John, St. Charles and St. James parishes
- $15 million for Grand Isle protection and berm reconstruction
- The remaining $15 million will be split among five different projects, including improvements to the Amite River
While the feds are providing $255 million for the East Baton Rouge Parish projects, the city-parish will have to eventually pay for 35% of the cost over a 30-year period, Graves tells Daily Report. The Comite River Diversion Canal, however, will be 100% federally funded.
“It’s all been part of a strategy because of frustrations with Corps delays and recognition that, if we get other funding streams, we can move these projects along faster,” says Graves, who alluded to the new federal funds on Monday during his address to the Baton Rouge Press Club. “It’s been a concerted 15-month effort to look at this comprehensively and stop looking at it through silos.”
The congressman, now in his second term, says his chairmanship of the Water Resources Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps, uniquely posited him to negotiate a funding package. They reached an agreement over 25 separate meetings with everyone from Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson to President Donald Trump, he says.
Graves says some of the funded projects should kickstart in the next few weeks. Though others will have to sign agreements between the U.S. Army Corps, the state and local entities, Graves predicts all projects to begin by the end of the year.