BATON ROUGE — Louisiana will receive the federal funding needed to finance a flood-control project in the Baton Rouge region that has been on the drawing board for three decades, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves announced Thursday.
The Baton Rouge Republican said nearly $1.4 billion in new federal funding for flood and hurricane-protection projects in Louisiana includes $343 million for the long-stalled Comite River Diversion Canal. Combined with prior federal financing, Graves said the project has enough money for construction.
"This is not a drill. This is not merely a hope and a prayer. The logjam has been completely broken, and we are getting the best flood protection we've ever had," Graves said in a statement. "Comite will be completed in three-to-four years."
The 12-mile (20-kilometer) diversion channel will siphon high water from the Comite River and send it to the Mississippi River, to reduce flooding near the Comite. Supporters say that could protect thousands of homes in parts of East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes from future floods.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said the project "will play one of the most significant roles in our flood mitigation efforts." The Democratic governor, who met with both Obama and Trump administration officials to push for the project, praised Louisiana's congressional delegation and Graves in particular for helping to secure the money.
"After decades, this is the day we have been waiting and fighting for," U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, said in a statement Thursday.
Of the other hurricane-protection dollars, $760 million will pay for construction of an 18-mile levee in the St. John the Baptist Parish area to shield the region against storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain.
Additional dollars will pay for flood-control projects across south Louisiana.