The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

DRA's Multi-modal transportation meeting on Oct. 19 in Tunica, Mississippi

Posted on October 09, 2007 at 12:16 PM

“DRA to Hold Major Meeting on Multi-modal Transportation on Oct. 19, 2007, in Tunica, Mississippi”

We encourage the Delta Grassroots Caucus partners to participate in the Delta Regional Authority’s meeting on multi-model transportation for our region, to be held Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Gold Strike Casino Resort near Tunica, MS. Earlier this year, the DRA released its Delta Development Highway System plan for a series of highway improvements across the region, and this multi-modal meeting is another major step in their long-range strategic planning efforts to improve the Delta’s transportation system. This is the first in a series of meetings to gather feedback on this subject.

The Delta Caucus partners gave feedback in the many local meetings held across the region in developing the $18.5 billion Delta Development Highway System plan earlier this year, and we encourage everybody to do the same for the multi-modal initiative. The multimodal plan will address aviation, passenger rail service, freight rail service, highways and waterways.

We have many partners who have a great deal of experience in promoting completion of the I-69 Corridor and many other transportation improvements for our eight-state, 240-county region.

Below is a message from Rex Nelson of the DRA on the meeting, with information on how to RSVP, etc. Thanks–Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347


The Delta Regional Authority will soon host the first in a series of public meetings on multimodal transportation in the region. The first public meeting will be held from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Gold Strike Casino Resort near Tunica, Miss.

The authority is developing a multimodal strategic plan for the region it serves. When Congress created the DRA in 2000, one of the investment priorities listed for the authority was the transportation infrastructure of the 240 counties and parishes in the DRA region.

Earlier this year, the authority released its plan for the Delta Development Highway System. The plan was developed following input from transportation executives and local organizations in the eight states served by the DRA. Public meetings were held throughout the region in the fall of 2006. The multimodal strategic plan will build on the work already done by the authority.

“The Delta Development Highway System plan represented the culmination of thousands of hours of work by those of us at the authority and some of the region’s top transportation experts,” said Pete Johnson of Clarksdale, Miss., the DRA’s federal co-chairman.

During a planning retreat in February 2005, the DRA board voted to make transportation one of the authority’s three major policy development areas along with health care and information technology. Shortly after that retreat, the authority contracted with a consortium of firms to assist with transportation planning. The consulting team for the Delta Development Highway System consisted of Wilbur Smith Associates, the Michael Baker Corp. and Neel-Schaffer Inc. Staff members from the Federal Highway Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission provided additional assistance.

“We worked for more than a year to agree on the criteria and priorities for the Delta Development Highway System plan,” Johnson said. “Approved highway programs for each of our eight states were used in preparing a draft plan. That draft then was presented during public meetings in Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Local input was crucial to the development of the plan. As we develop this new multimodal plan, local input again will be important to us.

“As was the case with the Delta Development Highway System plan, the multimodal plan will be presented to the president and Congress when it’s completed. A section of the most recent national highway act mandated a study of multimodal transportation assets and needs in the region. We’re required to consult with local and state governments and then develop a report that determines priorities, costs, benefits and expected outcomes. Putting together a comprehensive strategic plan for such a large region will require a great deal of coordination. That’s why we need strong participation in all of our public meetings.”

Those desiring to attend the Oct. 19 meeting should send an e-mail to Bevin Hunter of the DRA staff at

During the Oct. 19 meeting, Johnson and DRA staff members will summarize the authority’s transportation work up until this point, introduce the consulting team for the multimodal transportation plan, review the schedule for completing the plan and invite public input. The multimodal plan will address aviation, passenger rail service, freight rail service, highways and waterways. The plan must be presented to the administration and Congress by July.

The DRA is a federal-state partnership that serves parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Johnson, who was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001, serves on the DRA board with the governors of the eight states.

In addition to its transportation planning activities, the DRA operates a highly successful grant program in each of the eight states it serves. This program allows cash-strapped cities and counties to leverage money from other agencies. The DRA also has expanded its regional initiatives in the areas of health care and information technology.