U.S. Rep. Al Lawson‘s biggest challenge in his re-election bid will be shoring up the Jacksonville end of his sprawling North Florida district.
To that end, the first-term Democrat, perhaps mindful of a potential primary challenge from former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, is inviting a Jacksonville official to President Donald Trump‘s State of the Union Tuesday.
Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) Executive Director Paul Tutwiler will be in attendance.
“Mr. Tutwiler stepped up to assist residents in our community affected by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever documented in the Atlantic Ocean,” said Rep. Lawson.
“He is the epitome of ‘my brother’s keeper,’ helping neighbors to recover and ensuring their safety. His hand-on support and invaluable presence made the recovery effort for those most effected in the great city of Jacksonville less of a burden [SIC],” Lawson said in a press release.
Lawson has used Hurricane Irma and recovery in attempts to build ties with Jacksonville skeptics, introducing the Flood Water Relief Act last year.
The Flood Water Relief Act would make supplemental appropriations for flood control and storm damage reduction projects in Jacksonville, via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
$116,968,000 would be available through fiscal year 2027 for areas that received a major disaster declaration after recent storms, and that money would be used for Corps projects that reduced flooding and storm damage risks. The allocations: $79 million for 11 flood and storm surge projects, funding for a US Army Corps of Engineers flood study, and $20 million more for flood resiliency efforts in Jacksonville.
Among some of the projects this money could go to perform are the following.
The McCoy Creek Drainage Improvement Project, for example, would bring relief to an area that has suffered flooding since well before consolidation of the city and county in 1967. McCoy’s Creek Boulevard — a cut-through for commuters in North Riverside — would be closed. A retention pond would be created. And repetitive loss properties would be eligible for residential relocation.
Hogan’s Creek, another flood-prone tributary of the St. Johns, would see improved conveyance under the Arlington Expressway, and two Regional Stormwater Facilities.
The Moncrief Creek project would abate flooding in the Northside neighborhood, and would offer bank stabilization and a couple of regional stormwater facilities.
Drainage improvements, per the Lawson plan, would be slated for the Emerald Necklace, Dinsmore, and the “Emerald Necklace” area around Hogan’s Creek and Springfield.
Money would also be allocated for the Liberty Street bridge project, as well as replacements for 35 drawbridges on evacuation routes.
Additionally, money would be earmarked for studies of stormwater retention and Jacksonville’s hurricane risk sheltering program.
Thus far, all of this is theoretical, as the bill has yet to even have a committee stop in the House.