U.S. Department of Transportation Providing Over $16 Million to Help Repair Hurricane Damaged Airports in Texas and Louisiana

    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

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