BATON ROUGE, La. – The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has received an additional $75 million in federal emergency highway funds, and another $1.048 billion will soon be on its way to help Louisiana hurricane recovery efforts.
Tuesday’s announcement by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) represents the third installment of $100 million in “quick-release funds” DOTD requested immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck. Those funds, and the $1.048 billion to come, will cover emergency road and bridge repairs and debris pickup along most state and federal highways. No state match is required for these funds.
Included in the overall figure is more than $600 million to design and build a new elevated I-10 “twin-span” bridge between Slidell and New Orleans. The existing bridge suffered major damage during Katrina and has been repaired, but an elevated structure is needed to avoid repeat damage from storm surge.
DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry explained that the $75 million released from FHWA will help reimburse DOTD for emergency repairs and debris pickup. Bradberry also noted it is imperative that FHWA quickly release the $1.048 billion so DOTD can continue playing a leadership role in rebuilding Louisiana without draining money from badly needed projects across the state.
The announcement that FHWA was releasing $75 million came in conjunction with announcements of $740 million for Mississippi and $42 million for Florida, which prompted questions about the seeming disparity.
However, DOTD Undersecretary Michael Bridges explained that federal officials did not tell Louisiana until this month that additional paperwork was needed to process the request. Since then, the formal request for more than $1 billion has been made and approved by FHWA.
“Our paperwork is in the pipeline,” Bridges said.