LAFAYETTE -- Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson and local elected officials this week to highlight a major transportation project set to begin between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a $60 million FASTLANE grant to the state of Louisiana to partially fund the project. The award was made based on an application by the Edwards administration.
“I am committed to improving our state’s infrastructure to support Louisiana’s growing economy, and that starts by bringing our federal tax dollars home,” said Edwards. “For too long, infrastructure needs in this state have been ignored, but by partnering with state, local and federal officials, we can make a real impact on the lives of our citizens. I’m proud of the application we’ve put together to receive this financial support, and I am looking forward to moving projects along all across this state.”
"Being one of 18 FASTLANE grants recipients in the nation is a validation that Louisiana's new multimodal transportation policy is delivering real projects," said Wilson. "This is further evidence that DOTD can deliver transformative infrastructure projects that make a difference for communities and our economy with the necessary resources. However, we cannot just rely on one-time federal funds to maintain and build the system we deserve."
“Louisiana can't build a thriving twenty-first century economy on crumbling roads and highways,” said Rep. Charles Boustany. “The I-10 corridor supports Louisiana jobs and economic activity from large industries to small businesses. That's why this funding is vitally important. I'm proud to work together with state and local officials to ensure I-10 continues to be a main artery of commerce across Louisiana and the Southern United States.”
"The intersection of I-49 and I-10 through Lafayette is a critical commercial corridor for the country and our state," said Lafayette City-Parish President Joel Robideaux. “This investment is forward-thinking rather than reactionary. It anticipates and addresses future infrastructure needs. Lafayette is and always will be an enthusiastic partner with state and federal government on infrastructure projects. I thank Gov. Edwards for his leadership in securing these much needed funds. I urge all elected officials to rally behind his call for improving our roadways. The economic viability of our state depends on it.”
"We are very excited to be a part of this FASTLANE award grant. Infrastructure is a key component to economic development and the growth of a community,” said Guy Cormier, St. Martin Parish President. "St. Martin Parish, and all of Acadiana, will benefit tremendously from these improvements, and we look forward to working with the state to help move this project forward."
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.
"I am excited for the start of this great project that will go through House District 44 and have a great impact on the Acadiana region, said State Rep. Vincent Pierre. "I am greatly appreciative for the hardwork that Gov. Edwards and Secretary Wilson exhibited to secure these funds."
"What a great expression of leadership by Gov. Edwards," said State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux. "Because of his commitment to developing a relationship with President Obama and the federal government, we are the beneficiaries of a $60 million dollar project. This project comes at the right time to stimulate our economy."
In April, the Edwards administration formally submitted an application for the federal transportation grant, following through with a commitment from Gov. Edwards to bring federal dollars back to Louisiana to reinvest in infrastructure.
By investing in this project, the state will now have the ability to dedicate available funds to advance other infrastructure projects. Edwards announced the award in July, outlining various projects that would progress in Louisiana.
In addition, in June 2016, 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.