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Vidalia port won’t get federal grant

VIDALIA — Vidalia will not receive an $11 million grant leaders were hoping would fund the completion of the Vidalia port facility.

The 40-acre port was awaiting the grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, which is part of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Department of Transportation received 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., but only awarded funds to 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico totaling $511 million.

Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District Executive Director Heather Malone said the news was unexpected, but that it will not deter them from finishing the project.

“For our size community, I think we did the best we could have done with the application,” Malone said. “We will continue with phase one because we already have the money for that portion of the project and continue looking for other funds.”

Phase one of the project was an access road from the port to Louisiana 131, which is nearly complete.

The concrete road begins on the east side of Louisiana 131 and stretches to the base of the levee.

Construction has begun on another access road on the opposite side of Louisiana 131 into Vidalia’s industrial park.

Phase one was paid for by a $1.25 million grant from the U.S Economic Development Administration and a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Malone said she plans on contacting the department of transportation to see how the city could have improved their application.

“All of the projects that received these monies needed to be shovel ready, and I don’t know if they thought we weren’t shovel ready even though we had begun construction,” Malone said. “I wasn’t sure that we would get the full request, but I was hopeful that we would get something.”

Mayor Hyram Copeland said the city will continue to seek funding for the project and stress the importance of the facility during their trip to Washington, D.C., in February.

“We’re extremely disappointed, but we’ve had bumps in the road before,” Copeland said. “This is a project we’ve been working on for 19 years and we’re not going to give up that easy.”