BATON ROUGE — Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD), announced that Louisiana will receive $60 million in FASTLANE grant funding from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).
The funding will allow the state to complete a nearly 15-mile pavement replacement and lane addition project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. In April, Gov. Edwards formally submitted the application for funding on behalf of the state. Gov. Edwards and Sec. Wilson began working on the application during the governor’s transition last year as a part of his overall policy agenda.
“Bringing our federal tax dollars back to Louisiana to improve our infrastructure is a no brainer,” said Gov. Edwards. “While we are extremely grateful that the federal government is making this investment in Louisiana, this award will make it possible to invest in infrastructure projects across the State of Louisiana. From North Louisiana to South Louisiana – East to West – we have infrastructure needs that have been ignored for years. A robust Louisiana economy is dependent upon a strong infrastructure, and I am looking forward to getting projects underway across the state.”
“We are pleased to receive this innovative grant award and are prepared to deliver for the people of Louisiana,” LADOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said. “As we consider ways to invest in transportation infrastructure for Louisiana, this grant is a great first step to beginning that process.”
This project will improve a portion of the interstate system that carried 120 million tons of freight worth $204 billion in 2015. The entire I-10 corridor is experiencing tremendous growth, but this is the most competitive section given the federal grant requirements. Traffic counts from 2016 indicate that more than 33 percent of all vehicles traveling on this portion of I-10 are freight related. Future freight flows are expected to grow by 55 percent, and the value of the freight will grow to an estimated $435.3 million. The entire project is estimated to cost more than $300 million.
By investing in this project, the state will now have the ability to dedicate available funds to advancing other infrastructure projects. Those projects include construction of a new Washington Street off ramp in Baton Rouge, advancing the design of a reconstructed interchange at Loyola Avenue for the New Orleans Airport, improving railroad crossings on the freight-rail corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and advancing design of the I-20/220 interchange into Barksdale.
“The entire state stands to benefit from this grant,” Gov. Edwards continued. “By freeing up state funds for this project, we will be in a position to redirect resources to other critical infrastructure needs across Louisiana. This was a collaborative effort between state, federal and local stakeholders that will have significant impact on our state.”
Last month, Gov. Edwards announced the creation of the Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment. The task force will make recommendations to Gov. Edwards to improve infrastructure in the state.
The duties of the task force include:
Research, identify, and make specific actionable recommendations for achieving sufficient increased levels of recurring funding to address the transportation backlog in highway and bridge maintenance needs in Louisiana.
Research, identify, and make specific actionable recommendations to be introduced in 2017 to fund a robust, multimodal construction program to address immediate needs that preserve the state’s investments in infrastructure and build “megaprojects” included in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan, Priority A and Priority B.