U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman
Y. Mineta announced continued progress in rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast’s transportation system, including the return of passenger flights to the area and the arrival of the first Department of Transportation ship to aid recovery efforts.
“Every day we are making more progress in repairing the transportation systems destroyed by Hurricane Katrina,” Mineta said. “It is our goal to help restore stability and quality of life to the people of the Gulf Coast as quickly as possible.”
Commercial flights began serving the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport today, the first since the airport was severely damaged last Monday. Northwest and Mesa Airlines each flew one round-trip flight between Mississippi’s Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, starting today the Department’s Federal Aviation Administration will be operating the Lafayette Regional Airport 24 hours a day to accommodate air cargo operations from New Orleans that have been displaced by Katrina
The crane ship Diamond State, which left Houston, Texas yesterday, is expected to arrive later today at the Port of New Orleans. The crane ship will provide working cranes for the Nashville Street Wharf in order to load and unload ships in the port. The Diamond State will also provide power to some of the port's shore-side facilities and equipment to help get the port back up and running. The Diamond State is one of the Department of Transportation’s Ready Reserve Force vessels, which typically helps re-supply oversees U.S. military bases.
Also, the S.S. Wright, which departed Baltimore, Maryland yesterday, continues to travel to the Gulf Coast for additional support. Several other ships also continue to prepare for departure and will follow shortly. Secretary Mineta last week took the unprecedented step of mobilizing the U.S. Ready Reserve Force to support recovery and rebuilding efforts