Landrieu tries to salvage La rural broadband project

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is asking the US Commerce Department to reconsider rescinding an $80 million federal grant to expand broadband in Louisiana. The grant was revoked last month after federal managers cited prolonged mismanagement of the funds and rejected a new plan proposed by state officials. The original project was to be completed by 2013 in order to fulfill the requirements of the grant, in a letter from the Commerce Department, project auditors noted that the state had not made enough progress to meet the deadline.

In an attempt to salvage the project, Senator Landrieu wrote a letter to the Commerce Department noting her own frustration and asked federal officials to look for other ways to fund the project.

“Like you, I am extremely frustrated that the state of Louisiana could not meet necessary deadlines to complete this important project,” wrote Landrieu, D-La. “This award presented a rare opportunity to directly improve the everyday lives of residents in some of the most under served and rural parts of central and northeastern Louisiana.”

The Senator is asking for funds to go to specific parishes with the most need. The grant would have originally provided funding for 21 parishes in rural Louisiana. Some cities that were included in the original funding have also taken it upon themselves to apply for funds for their own municipal broadband projects.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission will hear from the Jindal administration and the Board of Regents today regarding the circumstances surrounding the loss of the grant.