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Jul 15, 2011 9:50 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP

Vidalia gets nearly $1M more for port

VIDALIA, La. (AP) - Vidalia officials scaled down plans for work toward a $15 million port and got nearly $1 million in grants from the Economic Development Administration.
Heather Malone - head of the Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District - says the city cut about $400,000 from a $1.6 million plan, and the agency took on 80 percent of the cost rather than 55 percent. That means the city will pay $250,000, instead of $800,000.
"We had to change what we wanted to do on the project a little bit," she said. "But $250,000 is a lot better than what we were originally looking at having to pay."
Instead of a road from the port to the western side of Louisiana 131 near the Vidalia Industrial Park, the city will build a short connector road to the east side of 131, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.
He said Vidalia is working with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to get the city's share of the grant.
"We don't have the final word on that, but I feel like we are going to be able to receive those funds," he said.
Copeland says the city should be opening bids by mid-August, and construction should begin within a few weeks after that. He says the city already has $1.6 million for the next step, taking the road over the levee.
"We almost have $3 million in grants already," he said.
Copeland said the port will continue to be built in phases, and he expects the entire project to be complete within the next two to three years.

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