The Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana Multimodal Freight Corridor project will receive $10.5 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation to modernize and improve rail safety infrastructure along a freight corridor running from McGehee to Tallulah, Louisiana and to improve the regional connectivity of three inland waterway ports, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. John Boozman.

The funds were awarded to the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District on a competitive basis from Department of Transportation’s Improvement Project Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.

“This is exciting news for the region,” Boozman said in the news release. “The economic benefits of increased rail and river traffic are vital to the long-term growth in Southeast Arkansas. The Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana Multimodal Freight Corridor is the type of project that could serve as a national model for how smart infrastructure investments can spur results and drive lasting benefits for economies in rural America.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said the updates will provide the region with improved rail-safety and port-connectivity while U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford said the grant money will ignite the Delta’s economy.

“This grant will move more commodities, bring Southeast Arkansas into the global marketplace, and ignite the Delta’s economy,” Crawford said. “This is all welcome news for Arkansas’s 1st district and I look forward to years of economic development.”

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is “thrilled” to see the resources allocated to improving the rail and waterway infrastructure.

“In a rural state, modern, safe and efficient railways and ports are crucial parts of driving economic growth,” Westerman said. “The devastating flooding we experienced this year showed how essential it is to upgrade Arkansas’s infrastructure, and this grant is a huge step in the right direction.”