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$10 million more for Amite flooding project Feb 4, 2015
BATON ROUGE – Today, a state legislator praised congressional Senators for working to get additional funding for the Comite River Diversion Canal project, a long-standing project to reduce flooding along the Amite River, and which has been delayed for years.

Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) received word that The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2015 spending plan has been increased by $10 million designated for the Comite diversion project.

“The ten million dedicated to this project is a huge win for the people living in Baton Rouge and the Amite river Basin,” Hodges said. “The new funds were sorely needed to get the project out of a long overdue deficit of mitigation credits. Now the project can get back on track.”

Hodges said the money will go toward buying necessary mitigation land, to finalize project design and allot construction funds for LA Highway 61.

“As the public knows, our taxpayers have been contributing since 2001, and we have yet to get what we paid for,” said Hodges, who is chairing a special task force to determine what is delaying the project and how to get it back on track.

According to figures gathered by Hodges' committee, the flood of 1983 caused $344 million in damages, which would equal more $820 million to day. The planned diversion canal, by comparison, would cost $199 million, less than a quarter of the price of potential damage if it is not built.

"After years of no movement on this project, I am excited to see some progress for our community. I have been working closely with Sen. Vitter, Sen Cassidy and Congressman Graves and am thankful for their support in prioritizing this project on the federal level,” Hodges said.

She said the Comite Task Force was instrumental in bringing all parties together and was successful in defining each entities role and streamlining the processes. “There is another, important benefit, however,” Hodges said,

“The project will reduce and eliminate some flood zones and thus drive down federal flood insurance premiums for homes in those areas. This would create a significant savings to property owners in the area, allowing many citizens to remain in their homes and continue to live in this area.”