Artist’s rendering of proposed Mississippi Aquarium in downtown Gulfport

More than $43 million in federal grants will help fund six Mississippi Gulf Coast projects focused on coastal restoration and transportation infrastructure, Gov. Phil Bryant announced Wednesday.

The grants were doled out by the U.S. Department of the Treasury per the federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2012. The RESTORE Act is one of a handful of pots of federal money that provide funding to the Gulf region to restore ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The projects, originally announced in late 2015, are part of Mississippi’s Multiyear Implementation Plan, which prioritizes the eligible projects to receive these types of Treasury funds, called the Direct Component.

Some eligible activities under this plan include restoration and protection of natural resources; mitigation of damage to natural resources; workforce development and job creation; improvements to state parks; infrastructure projects, including ports; coastal flood protection; and, promotion of tourism and Gulf seafood.

So far, the state’s proposed projects under this plan total more than $54.1 million, a statement from the governor’s office said.

This wave of projects includes:

  • Constructing the Coastal Community Gallery Building on the Mississippi Aquarium campus, a roughly 42,000 square foot space that will serve as the primary aquarium building ($17 million)
  • Constructing new hangar at the Stennis International Airport to support aerospace industry growth ($2 million)
  • Workforce development and job creation via an Off-bottom Oyster Aquaculture Program, which supports training in alternative oyster harvesting methods for Gulf Coast oystermen and fishermen ($1 million)
  • Planning assessments to identify how to improve fiber optic infrastructure along the Mississippi Gulf Coast ($5 million)
  • Completing improvements to the Port Bienville Trans-Loading Terminal Facility. The project will build about 1,600 linear feet of rail spur, 1,200 linear feet of bulkhead, and 9,300 square yards of dock area so the terminal can be used for shipping materials via multiple modes of transportation; shipping container operations; and supply vessels in the offshore industry. ($8 million)
  • Constructing the Jackson County Corridor Connector Road, which is 1.1 miles of roadway connecting Mallett Road/Sangani Boulevard to Cook Road. This would be phase one of a multi-phased project to expand the area’s transportation networks ($10.2 million)

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