Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today the state will provide the more than $40 million in matching funds necessary to secure a $255 million federal grant that will enable five drainage projects in East Baton Rouge Parish to move forward.
Edwards made the announcement at a joint press with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. Graves helped secure the funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more than a year ago, but the city-parish has not been able to draw down the money because it lacked the funds to provide the required local match.
Under the terms of the arrangement, the state has committed $40 million towards the local match that is needed up front to purchase real estate around the waterways. The state will also share evenly the cost with the parish of an approximate $25 million in an additional local match that will be financed over several years.
The city of Central has also committed $4 million toward the projects because two of the canals run through the city.
“This project is an example of a local, state and federal partnership that will ensure that critical drainage work is completed to make the Baton Rouge community more resilient and its people safer for years to come,” Edwards says. “The state’s commitment in this project is part of the larger work we will complete across the region to mitigate flood threats.”
The drainage projects, collectively known as the East Baton Rouge Parish Flood Risk Reduction Project, have been on the books for nearly 30 years and will widen, deepen, clean out and otherwise improve five key canals that run through the parish: Blackwater Bayou, Beaver Bayou, Jones Creek, Ward’s Creek and Bayou Fountain.
“As important as this project is, it represents 1980s protection. The Capital Region urgently needs 2050s protection,” Graves said. “An announcement expected soon on the guidelines of an additional $1.2 billion in federal flood protection funds for Louisiana will be the starting point for that future protection.”
That $1.2 billion will fund a separate series of statewide flood mitigation projects known as the Watershed Initiative. After 18 months of delay, the federal government last week announced it will soon release the regulations governing how the money can be spent.
Broome says that the projects could be completed in the next four years.