The Joint Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee approved the state’s request for Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds, also known as GARVEE Bonds.
The projects include improvements to the Interstate 20/I-220 interchange and a new access from I-20 directly into Barksdale Air Force Base.
With the $600 million bond, DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., laid out a plan that will lead to the construction on major infrastructure projects in Louisiana. These projects have been part of the State’s Transportation Master Plan for decades, though were never constructed due to budgetary restraints.
The projects in the plan are already going through the state and federal processes needed to reach construction. Once funding is available, the other state projects include:
- A substantial portion of the I-10 reconstruction and widening from the Mississippi River Bridge to the I-10/I-12 split in Baton Rouge.
- A new Interchange on I-10 in Kenner at Loyola Drive to serve the new Armstrong airport terminal currently under construction.
- Up to 10 percent of project cost for new toll bridges (the Belle Chasse bridge and tunnel replacement project would be eligible if the funds are necessary.)
“There has been an outcry from the public for these improvements and we are working to find innovative means to fund the important projects that will have a positive impact on Louisiana and the nation,” Wilson said. “All of the projects and more would have been funded under the gas tax proposal that the legislature did not pass last year. With that in mind, if we as a state are going to improve the infrastructure needed for economic development and quality of life, funding mechanisms such as GARVEE bonds and Public Private Partnerships will play a role in our future development. I applaud the Committee for realizing the importance and advancing this proposal.”
The state will repay the debt of the GARVEE Bonds using the federal highway funds received each year over the course of 12 years. This payout will be before the two other Infrastructure Bond programs, the Highway Improvement Fund (NFA Roads scheduled to be paid in 2033) and the TIMED program (scheduled for payout in 2045). Local governments and metropolitan organizations impacted by these projects will make financial contributions as well, including the City of Baton Rouge/EBR Parish, Capital Region Planning Commission, City of Kenner, Jefferson Parish, City of New Orleans, New Orleans International Airport, Regional Planning Commission, City of Bossier City, Bossier Parish, and Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments.
These projects are expected to receive environmental clearance by the end of 2018, which is also the anticipated timeframe that the GARVEE program will be finalized. The Department will proceed to seek approval to use design-build for the Loyola Interchange and Barksdale entrance projects in order to ensure that both projects will not have to wait for funding once environmental clearance is achieved. The Department will make a decision on the preferred delivery method for the I-10 reconstruction and widening once the constructability analysis is completed.