Gulf Coast states have received added federal funds to help reconstruct roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation said Dec. 1 it has provided $40 million to Louisiana and Mississippi for highway rebuilding. Each state got $20 million.

In September, the U.S. DOT sent each state an initial $5 million in emergency road funding.

Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said the new $40 million "should give the states some financial relief while we wait for action on the next aid package." The White House has asked Congress for $2.3 billion more to fix Gulf Coast highways and bridges, but lawmakers have not yet acted on the request.

Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said, "We think release of the $20 million is great--and necessary, given our cash-flow needs at this time." He added that his agency hopes the funds will be followed by Louisiana's estimated $995-million share of the additional $2.3 billion the Bush administration has requested. "This money is desperately needed for a wide range of emergency relief projects," Bradberry said.

Louisiana and Mississippi have used their own funds to finance most of the post-Katrina road and bridge repairs so far. The U.S. DOT aid in effect starts to replenish the states' transportation accounts. "We have already paid for a tremendous amount of work," says Louisiana DOTD spokesman Mark Lambert. He notes that initial repairs on the Interstate-10 "Twin Spans" have cost $31 million.