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|Port seeks funds for security fence|
The Greater Ouachita Port Commission will apply for a $216,000 federal grant to place security fencing around the port's campus.
Terry Baugh with Ouachita Terminals, which operates the port, said about $15 million in federal funding is available for ports through FEMA's Port Security Grant Program. If awarded the grant, the port would be responsible for a 25-percent match.
"The worse that can happen is we're told no on the grant," Baugh said. "We've been told 'no' before, and on the flip side, we've been told 'yes' on some grants where we expected to hear 'no.' "
"We're at a point where we just don't pass up any opportunities," Baugh added.
Another funding opportunity for the port includes projects that can be submitted for funding through a stimulus package President-elect Barack Hussein Obama says he will ask Congress to approve. The state's congressional delegation requested that port officials make a list of projects they want funded through a stimulus package Congress may approve.
Baugh said much of the stimulus package Obama has talked about would entail funding for infrastructure projects, including those at ports across the country.
"Basically, we were given a $10-million limit," Baugh said. "We have no idea of the chances of success for any of that, but again, the worse that could happen is we're told 'no.'"
The port also submitted a grant application to the Federal Rail Administration in December for projects that deal with rail-line relocation and improvement of traffic issues. Awards will be announced some time in February, Baugh said.
The GOPC also has a $1.3 million port priority allocation from the state to help pay for an access road.
The access road is the next major infrastructure project that will take place at the port. It is expected construction of the access road could begin in the first quarter of this year.
The access road would connect the port's existing rail-side storage to its dock-side storage area.
When the access road is finished, the facility could be enclosed. At that point, the port would be eligible to pursue homeland security funding and other grants from federal agencies, which require structures to be secure.