Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., as well as local and state officials, to sign House Bill 578 into law. The bill appropriates $700 million from the BP oil spill settlement to transportation projects across the state.
“Signing this bill into law is another major accomplishment for the state’s infrastructure, and I applaud the legislature for targeting long-awaited projects that we know will help improve travel for motorists and provide economic benefits to the state,” said Gov. Edwards. “Despite overwhelming needs, we are finding innovative ways to fund important projects across Louisiana, which is necessary for the growth of our communities and state."
Projects that will receive funding include:
Additionally, this bill will allocate $125 million to construct a 2.7-mile connector from the LA 415/ Lobdell Hwy. I-10 exit to LA 1 in West Baton Rouge Parish. This project will consist of the construction of a new four-lane roadway between LA 1 near LA 988 (Beaulieu Lane) and I-10 at the LA 415 interchange, in addition to a bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Elevated structures will be required for much of the project, including flyover ramps from northbound LA 1 to southbound LA 1.
“The signing of HB 578 is a win for infrastructure,” said Secretary Wilson. “The transportation needs are crucial throughout the state and impacts our economy and quality of life. In West Baton Rouge where I-10 is used as a major connector for local residents and motorists traveling across the country and this connector will greatly improve connectivity and will assist in alleviating some of the traffic congestion experienced on a daily basis. While this one-time investment is a good down payment, we have so much more we could achieve with sustainable infrastructure investment.”
This new connector will assist in improving connectivity on I-10 in West Baton Rouge, as well as provide a relief route for local traffic during peak hours, divert traffic from accidents along LA 1, and provide a direct connection for commercial vehicles to intermodal transportation facilities located at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. It will also serve as an additional evacuation route for areas south of I-10.
“I am proud of the collaboration seen throughout this legislative session that allowed House Bill 578 to be passed. The $700 million allocated from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will allow DOTD to begin construction on many crucial projects that have been neglected due to a lack of funding. The maintenance and preservation of Louisiana’s infrastructure needs to be a priority, and I am delighted that this bill can play a vital role in aiding a portion of our transportation needs,” said Representative Tanner Magee.
DOTD anticipates having a consultant under contract for the design of the connector by fall 2019. Construction is estimated to begin fall 2022.
“The passing of House Bill 578 is a victory for not only the state but for my constituents,” said Senator Rick Ward. “The LA 415 connector will provide much needed relief for local traffic and assist with congestion over the Mississippi River Bridge. This is an example of what can be accomplished when parties work together for a common goal. I look forward to seeing the benefits this bill will bring for statewide infrastructure improvements.”