Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson announced plans Tuesday to move forward with bundling the project for direct access from the I-20/I-220 interchange into Barksdale Air Force Base with improvements to the Loyola Drive interchange access from I-10 to the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
This decision to combine the soliciting of these design-build projects simultaneously was due to an unprecedented request for letters of interest for the projects. Combining the qualification phases for the two projects will also be more efficient and ensure these projects are ready for construction at the earliest possible time, according to DOTD.
Earlier today, DOTD began the process by issuing a Notice of Intent (NOI) seeking interested design-build firms. The NOI can be viewed on DOTD’s website.
“There has been an outcry from the public for these projects and we are employing innovative means to deliver,” Wilson said. “These projects, as well as others, would have been funded under the broadly supported gas tax proposal that the legislature did not pass last year. We can no longer wait while we lose our competitive edge. We are forced to use GARVEE Bonds, a tool used by 30 other states to pay for major improvements.”
Federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds (GARVEE Bonds) allow the state to repay the debt with federal highway funds the state receives each year.
With the support of Governor John Bel Edwards, DOTD pursued approval of the Louisiana Joint Transportation Committee to utilize the design-build contracting process, which can expedite project delivery by combing the design and construction phases. This approach also encourages private sector innovation. The recommendation to advertise and solicit for the two projects was approved on Jan. 31, 2018.
The estimates for the projects range from $80 to $125 million each.
A press release from DOTD says that the $13.9 billion backlog means DOTD will pursue “visionary means of funding and contracting to demonstrate what can be accomplished through innovation and working with our federal partners.” It goes on to say this includes competing for discretionary funding and creating an “office of innovative procurement to facilitate this more focused approach on innovation and public private partnership practices.”