Steamboat museum gets grant

Staff reports

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the Louisiana Office of Tourism announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded $5.2 million for construction of the Louisiana River Road Steamboat Overlook Interpretive Center under its National Scenic Byways Program for Fiscal Year 2010. The Louisiana Byways Program, within the Louisiana Office of Tourism, is responsible for applying for the grant and securing funds. DOTD will oversee the design and construction of the center, to be located at Burnside Landing in Ascension Parish along the Louisiana Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

            The Houmas House Foundation will provide the $1.3 million (20%) match to the proposed $6.5 million facility, which will contain interpretive exhibits that depict the history and culture of the steamboat era, river commerce and the international significance of the Mississippi River throughout its history. Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2012.

            The $5.2 million grant is the largest award given to any National Scenic Byways Program this year, and it is the second largest award given to any state in the history of the National Scenic Byway Program.

            “DOTD is pleased that the Federal Highway Administration has awarded funding for the design and construction of this unique project,” said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. “The interpretive center will serve as an attraction and landmark for the local community, increasing visitation to the area and providing economic growth for the entire region.”          

            “Louisiana already has many passions to choose from, this premier interpretive center and exhibit facility will give a new kind of opportunity for visitors to choose,” Lt. Governor Dardenne said. “The facility will also house educational opportunities for Louisiana students as it is used to interpret the history and influence of the Mississippi River on transportation, music and the folklore of river life.”

            The National Scenic Byways Discretionary Grants program provides merit-based funding for byway-related projects each year.  This year, the FHWA awarded a total of $40.7 million to 94 projects in 39 states.

            The National Scenic Byways Program was established under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. Under the program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads based on their archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities.

            The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient. 

For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email dotdcs@la.gov, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).