Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Louisiana officials expect to open bids for LA 1 project pegged to cost more than $400M in October

by BIZ Magazine

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Louisiana officials plan to open bids in October for an LA 1 improvement project that is expected to cost more than $400 million, a legislative oversight committee heard Monday.

Louisiana lawmakers dedicated $700 million in Deepwater Horizon settlement proceeds in 2019 to transportation, including $150 million for LA 1. A $135 million federal grant, $95 million in general obligation bonds and $36.2 million in local and industry support also have been lined up to fund the work for a total of $416.2 million, according to Monday’s presentation.

The project could cost $445 million, according to a previous estimate.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is in the process of replacing a major portion of existing LA 1 highway near Leeville with an 18-mile bridge. Phase 1 from Port Fourchon to Leeville opened in 2011.

Phase 2, which officials discussed Monday, would consist of 8.3 miles of elevated highway from the Leeville Bridge to Golden Meadow. The work would elevate LA 1 to 22 feet above the surrounding water, eliminating the threat of flooding, according to a project summary associated with the federal grant.

“The project supports economic vitality by providing a faster, more direct route for vehicles accessing the energy production industries located at Port Fourchon,” according to the summary. “At present, LA 1 is inundated and subject to closure up to 10 days per year, and that is likely to increase in the coming years.”

A tentative timeline presented Monday aimed for completion in 2027. If construction does not begin by September 2024 and completed by the end of 2028, officials may have to forfeit the federal grant or return up to $10 million.

The tolls collected to pay for Phase 1 of the LA 1 project do not fully cover the debt service. For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, state government chipped in $2.9 million toward the $8 million debt payment.

Revenue is down this fiscal year, and state taxpayers will be on the hook for an estimated $4 million to supplement toll revenue, officials said.

DOTD officials said they might need to replace the tolling system on LA 1, which would be expensive. They said they are in talks with Plenary Group, the state’s private partner for the $165 million Belle Chasse bridge and tunnel replacement project, to possibly take over toll administration for LA 1.

You may also like

Update Required Flash plugin