Mississippi's transportation chief calls for more federal aid, soon

| 12/2/2005

One day before the U.S. Department of Transportation released $20 million each to Louisiana and Mississippi to help rebuild bridges and roads destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi’s transportation chief Tuesday, Nov. 29, called on Congress to send $700 million by mid-December.

"If we don’t have it, we’ll be in a world of hurt,” Department of Transportation Director Butch Brown told The Clarion-Ledger. “There will be no Plan B at that point.”

Repairs to Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90 are among the top priorities.In mid-September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced $5 million in emergency relief funds to each state as an initial down payment.

Mineta said the funding is intended to give the state some financial relief until the next aid package is worked out.

One effort in Congress would shift a portion of the $67 billion provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its response to Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast Aug. 29.About $17 billion would be shifted to other hurricane-related projects, including $2.3 billion for transportation projects throughout Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the newspaper reported.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny Bradberry said the $20 million released this week to his state is badly needed and he’s hopeful it’s a prelude to approval of a supplemental bill that would provide Louisiana with $995 million for roads and bridges.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he is confident all the money eventually will be appropriated but stressed the sooner it arrives the better.