WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Four airports in Texas and Louisiana
that were damaged by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina will receive over $16 million
as the first installment of federal funds to pay for repairs, Secretary of
Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced today. The announcement follows the
Secretary's visit to the Southeast Texas Regional Airport and Louisiana's Lake
Charles Regional Airport yesterday where he pledged federal support.
"These airports provide important jobs, contribute to the local economy
and serve as vital connections for the regions they serve," Secretary Mineta
said. "This money will help fuel repairs and speed the reopening of these
critical airports," he added.
Lake Charles Regional Airport will receive almost $8 million to fund
repairs to the terminal building and airport fire station, as well as to
repair and replace runway signs. Southeast Texas Regional Airport will
receive almost $6 million in federal support to repair the terminal and fire
buildings, replace navigational equipment and lighting, repair damaged fire
trucks and replace runway signs.
Lakefront Airport in New Orleans will receive over $2 million to repair a
retaining wall, runways and taxiways that were damaged when the airport was
flooded after Hurricane Katrina. And Chennault International Airport, also in
Lake Charles, will receive over $36,000 to repair fencing that protects the
airport's lighting equipment.
Mineta called the grants "down payments" and pledged his department would
be a "full partner" with hurricane stricken communities working to rebuild
their transportation systems.
The Secretary noted that the federal funds will help restore general
aviation flights that are important to the regional economy because they are
needed to get engineers to oil rigs, connect business people to jobs and
provide a base of operations for on-shore patrols of pipelines. Mineta added
that restoring general aviation operations in the region is as important as
restoring commercial flights to nearby major airports, noting that general
aviation nationally contributes over $40 billion annually to the economy and
accounts for over 500,000 jobs.
Flight restrictions were lifted on Wednesday at Southeast Texas Regional
Airport while Lake Charles Regional Airport and Chennault International
Airport remain closed to all but emergency flights, Mineta noted.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Transportation