Construction to begin on next leg of LA-1
With construction set to commence on the next segment, fingers are crossed that President Donald Trump’s sweeping infrastructure initiative will provide some of the funding necessary to complete the 19-mi elevated Louisiana Highway 1 (LA-1) thoroughfare to Port Fourchon.
The latest 2,100-ft section is expected to be under construction by late May. It involves widening the existing bridge at Leeville to three lanes from the current 90° curve, and continuing 1,750 ft south, where the roadway would taper back to two lanes, according to Henri Boulet, executive director of the private nonprofit LA-1 Coalition. “The widening of this structure is needed to allow for a tie-in with the three-lane-wide connection from the north. The elevated highway from the north will be three lanes wide to accommodate a left-turn lane at this future intersection,” he said. “This will especially provide truckers an improved intersection and wider turn lane.”
The just-under $13.3-million segment is being constructed with a combination of state funds and $6.6 million in industry contributions. This southernmost section officially kicks off Phase 2 of the more-than-20-year-old effort to replace the storm-prone roadway from the town of Golden Meadow to Port Fourchon.
A portion of the estimated $343 million needed to complete the LA-1 project could come from Trump’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) initiative. The supporting Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) has applied for a $138-million grant under the INFRA program, in which $1.5 billion is expected to be awarded in May, representing two years of nationwide infrastructure improvement monies authorized, but not yet dispersed. Louisiana would still have to provide most of the funding needed to wrap up LA-1, which could prove challenging, given the state’s current fiscal struggles, Boulet says.
Louisiana’s economic woes were exacerbated by low oil prices and reduced bonuses cutting, in half, its chunk of the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) royalty sharing program. According to Boulet, the $143 million in OCS revenue that Louisiana expected to receive this year has been reduced to around $70 million to $80 million, of which only 10% can be directed to infrastructure, with the remainder required to be earmarked for coastal restoration. “For now, Louisiana is holding off on committing any OCS funds for infrastructure,” he said. “We are working with the state on how to come up with a match to a potential INFRA award.”
Provisions spelled out in the INFRA program would appear to give LA-1 a leg up in receiving a higher award and narrowing the funding gap. “With INFRA, 25% of the funding is to be allocated to rural projects outside of major metropolitan areas,” Boulet said. “As the (Trump) administration is looking at solid rural projects that contribute to job growth and energy security, we feel LA-1 is well-positioned for consideration under the rural component.”
The LA-1 project’s 63-member coalition is adhering to the port commission’s holistic resilience development philosophy, with all dredge material to be used to meet coastal mitigation requirements, Boulet said. “All dredge material will be used beneficially. The entire 19-mi project requires that we build nearly 100 acres of reconstructed wetlands. We plan to build on the back side of (the town of ) Leeville to offer future storm protection.”
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