A Louisiana roadway connector project has received an $88.3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to build a hurricane evacuation route in the Baton Rouge area. The funding comes from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), a federal program that supports large-scale highway, transit and rail projects. Construction is slated to begin in 2025.
The low-interest loan, along with $38 million in other federal funding, will support the first phase of the $268 million project. In 2019, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a $700 million infrastructure bill directing $125 million of BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf settlement funds to the connector project in 2019.
Although the settlement funds haven’t arrived, Louisiana is borrowing against the funds through the TIFIA program. This has allowed Louisiana to accelerate the project’s timeline by four years and save $75 million in inflation costs, state officials said.
The project includes a 2.7-mile stretch of two-lane roadway connecting Louisiana Highway 1 and Interstate 10 in the city of Port Allen. The state will also build bridges spanning the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), an interchange between Louisiana Highways 415 and LA 1, plus modifications of ramps along LA 415.
The state will build a four-lane connector roadway with a four-lane bridge over the GIWW with a 73-foot vertical clearance and a 125-foot horizontal clearance. Plans call for the project to support travel lanes, paved outside and inside shoulders and a 45 mph speed limit.
Currently, LA 1 lacks the capacity to handle traffic demands. Establishing a direct connection between LA 1/LA 415 will provide relief for congested local traffic and an evacuation route for areas south of I-10.
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