Calcasieu Ship Channel

The more than $46 million in federal funding for the Calcasieu River and Pass project is a "big deal for the community," Port of Lake Charles Director Bill Rase said on Wednesday.

The money, included in the Army Corps of Engineers' fiscal year 2020 Work Plan, was announced on Tuesday. The Calcasieu Ship Channel will get $27.4 million from the corps' operation and maintenance budget. Another $1.09 million goes to the Port of Lake Charles.

The construction budget gives $18 million to rebuild spoil disposal sites.

"That really bumped us up," said Regan Brown, the port's assistant director of navigation.

Brown said the port has to come up with $6 million before construction can start on the spoil disposal sites. The port can use the $1.09 million to pay for part of that amount. The rest, Rase said, will come from the port's operating budget.

The money set aside for dredging is 100 percent covered under the operation and maintenance budget as long as the port assumes "normal dredging activities," Brown said.

Rase said this funding will benefit the roughly 40 industries that rely on the Calcasieu Ship Channel to transport their products. He credited Louisiana's federal officials for their effort in securing money for the project.

"Without this, (companies) would end up with lesser volume of product used or shipped, which would impact their bottom line," he said.

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, said in a statement that dredging and water management "remains a top priority for my office."

"These investments are critical for our ports, waterways, locks and flood control infrastructure," he said.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said in a statement that infrastructure that controls flooding is "our last line of defense." Kennedy sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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