A program is in the works that would bring a variety of funding sources together to advance nearly $1.5 billion in Capital Region flood protection projects, Rep. Garret Graves said Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club.
The Republican lawmaker from Baton Rouge declined to provide specifics but says work has been underway on the program for 15 months and, if implemented, would connect five different federal funding streams to advance projects like the Comite River Diversion Canal as well as improvements to drainage in five bayous in East Baton Rouge Parish.
“We can’t just get money for these projects, we can’t deliver projects efficiently through this current system,” says Graves. “By being proactive, we save billions of dollars because these communities are protected and resilient and we’re not coming in and picking up the pieces after a flood, spending billions.”
He did not give a timeline for when the program would launch.
Graves says the Army Corps of Engineers is holding Louisiana projects back. He contends the federal agency has more than $100 billion in backlogged projects—one-third of which are in Louisiana.
Graves supports moving the agency out of the Department of Defense, saying it would make the agency more successful.
“You’re going to see a situation where projects are not allowed to languish, or sit back and drag on for not years, but decades as we’ve seen in the state of Louisiana,” Graves says.
On another topic, Graves says one of the greatest threats to the nation and the government is divisiveness in politics, referencing late Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso, who died Saturday morning in a bicycling accident.
“I think every single one of us has the responsibility to take a deep breath, to think very carefully, to think about how Buddy (Amoroso) would respond to make sure we’re not adding to that divisiveness, but rather deflating it or taking away from it,” says Graves. “If we can’t respond to the needs, and we can’t provide the solutions that are needed in our communities and nation, then that divisiveness is just going to grow.”