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$40 Million Flows In for Santa Maria Levee Project

The federal funding, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will cover necessary repairs

More than $40 million in federal funding has been made available for the Santa Maria River levee repair project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday.

The funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed into law on Feb. 17 to help in the recovery of the U.S. economy. Combined with the previously approved $6.7 million, the project is fully funded for its two- to three-year construction period.

“This is great news,” said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who received a phone call from Col. Thomas Magness on Tuesday informing her of the news. “The safety of this levee has been a big concern for all of us on the Central Coast but especially for the people of Santa Maria and Guadalupe. It is the perfect use of recovery funds, too — a shovel-ready project that creates jobs quickly, meets an important immediate need and sets the table for long-term economic growth in our area.”

For years, the levee has sustained significant damage in a series of winter storms. As a result, the levee is inadequately reinforced to withstand river flows. The Corps of Engineers recently added the levee to its nationwide list of endangered levees.

“This is just tremendous news for the city of Santa Maria,” Mayor Larry Lavagnino said. “This has been a top priority for the city, the Army Corps and the county for several years, and we look forward to construction commencing this fall. This project will protect 20,000 parcels in the city and create hundreds of jobs.”

The Corps of Engineers expects the project to be complete in the summer of 2011.

Noozhawk staff writer Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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