In an effort to improve infrastructure needs across the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, announced that the additional funding DOTD is receiving through state bonds and other sources will close the gap needed to complete the Kansas Lane- Garrett Road Connector I-20 Interchange Improvement project in Monroe. This is one of the two last multimodal connector projects that will be funded because of the limited transportation trust fund dollars.
This project will consist of widening Garrett Road to four lanes from Huntington Drive to LA 594 in Ouachita Parish. Additionally, a new two-lane roadway will be constructed connecting Garrett Road and Kansas Lane, as well as a concrete girder bridge for northbound Garrett Road over I-20, a concrete girder and steel span bridge over LA 594 and the KCS Railroad, improvements to LA 594 and the I-20 ramps at Garrett Road, and the construction of five roundabouts. This nearly $55 million improvement project is anticipated to go to bid in the summer of 2021.
House Bill 578, which passed in the 2019 Regular Session that just ended last Thursday, dedicated $40 million from the Deepwater Horizon settlement to improvements to state-owned bridges on roads that are not eligible for federal highway funds, often referred to as non-federal-aid, or NFA, routes. This funding will allow DOTD to advance many bridge projects statewide, with a focus on farm to market roads. With over $3.5 billion in bridge needs alone, 60 bridges in need of repair or replacement are on NFA routes in northeast Louisiana including the Chase District south of Monroe. Final decisions cannot be made on these bridges until the state determines what portion of the funds can be bonded.
In working with the members of the Northeast Delegation in the Louisiana Legislature, the state has committed the first portion of the $50 million from a special allocation for bridge rehabilitation and replacement for special projects in the region. Repairs or replacements to the following bridges in northeast Louisiana will be funded through this program at a cost of approximately $8 million:
Further, approximately $80 million has been dedicated for two projects to rehabilitate the I-20 Mississippi River Bridge, a critical route for commerce. DOTD will open bids on the first project later this month; the second project is expected to be let in the spring of 2022.
“This additional funding will help us complete long planned and much-needed infrastructure projects in northeast Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards. “Though northeast Louisiana does not directly benefit from the legislative rework of the BP settlement, we are continuing to fund millions in infrastructure improvement and replacement projects throughout the I-20 corridor. Northeast Louisiana's agriculture drives the state's economy and feeds the world, and this additional investment will ensure that we have a strong and stable system of roads and bridges to support our farmers and agriculture economy."
"These bridges are critical in moving product and commodities from the farm to the market, and the Delegation has worked in a unified fashion to prioritize,” said Sen. Francis Thompson.
“This is just another example of what the state can do when funds are available,” said Secretary Wilson. “These improvements are encouraging because it shows that legislators and others are aware of the infrastructure needs across the state, but the needs will always exceed our resources.”