Vidalia lands $3M in funding for riverfront

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2001

AP and staff reports

A multibillion dollar wish list of state construction projects goes to the governor’s desk after the House of Representatives approved the annual construction bill Wednesday without discussion.

The bill outlines $3 billion in construction projects for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, although most of the projects won’t really be funded for years – if ever. But $3 million requested for the Vidalia Landing project, being a Priority 2 request, should be funded in the next fiscal year.

&uot;This is a tremendous boost for the project itself,&uot; Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said Wednesday upon hearing news of the passage of House Bill 2. &uot;I’m excited about it.&uot;

Copeland also thanked state Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, and state Sen. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro, &uot;for working extremely hard on this.&uot;

Although the Riverfront Authority board makes such decisions, the money will probably be used for the project’s third phase, including extending the site’s riverwalk and road south of the Mississippi River bridge, Copeland said. The House agreed 95-1 Wednesday to Senate changes to the bill, sending it to Gov. Mike Foster.

The measure contains a five-year plan of construction for highways, bridges, ports and legislators’ pet projects to be paid with bond sales and very few state tax dollars.

The state is limited to $240 million in annual bond sales.

The projects are listed in five categories of priority and in the upcoming fiscal year only some of those in categories two and five stand a chance to get started.

Priority One projects are already underway, having been funded in previous years.

Foster’s administration said the state’s priorities should include emergency repairs of public buildings, continued funding of projects underway, parks, university infrastructure, highways, economic development and projects that don’t require additional state tax dollars.

It is estimated that the Vidalia Landing development, which has been in the works since 1992, could bring 400 jobs to a parish with high unemployment.