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|First phase of Vidalia port construction funded|
Mayor Hyram Copeland met with engineers Tuesday to begin finalizing plans for the first phase of construction on the Vidalia port following the announcement last week that $1.5 million in federal monies has been allocated.
"We are elated by this," said Copeland. "This port will provide us a great tool to continue to recruit industry and jobs to Concordia Parish and this region. The Mississippi River has always been one of our main assets."
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who secured the funding, said the money will be used to construct a port access road.
She said construction of the road will increase water transportation and decrease the environmental impact caused by highway usage, adding that the project will create 200 jobs and would preserve approximately 300 jobs.
"It is critical to enhance our transportation infrastructure to keep Louisianians safe and commerce flowing," said Landrieu. She said the transportation money "will improve the quality of life for Louisianians by creating economic development opportunities and sustaining good-paying jobs."
Located three miles south of Vidalia, the port will be sitatuated on 40 acres off Hwy. 131 on Whitehall Plantation across from the city's existing 240-acre industrial complex.
Copeland said the city has on hand $1.2 million in grant funds for the port authorized several years ago from the Economic Development Authority. He said the entire $15-million project will be financed through local, state and federal funds.
"With both the EDA grant and the funding secured by Sen. Landrieu we now have $2.7 million for the initial stage of planning and designing the port along with the construction of the access road," said Copeland. "We feel like we are now on our way."
He said this funding will help the city acquire what is known as "port priority" monies.
"Once a project is started, port priority monies become available," he said. "We also plan to get our state legislative delegation to work with us for funding through the state in future capital outlay and Sen. Landrieu and Congressman (Rodney) Alexander have assured us that they will work to acquire more federal grants."
Bryant Hammett & Associates are project engineers.
"This has taken many years and the efforts of many people and we are grateful," he said. "We want to thank each and everyone including Heather Malone and the Concordia economic development board."
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