GLPC Joins Partners in Applauding Announcement of $135 Million Award to Finish Elevating LA 1
(CUT OFF, LA) – What long felt like a dream has now come true with the announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a $135 million federal INFRA grant to the LA 1 Improvement Project.
The project’s approval, which was made official on Monday (June 15th), will add the final 8.3 miles of elevated roadway to extend from inside the flood protection system in Golden Meadow through the existing overpass and elevated highway in Leeville.
“The awarding of INFRA funds to the LA 1 project places the final piece of the puzzle that been put together by the state, parish, port commission, and industry stakeholders,” Greater Lafourche Port Commission Executive Director Chett Chiasson said. “This is an excellent example of what hard work and perseverance by all levels of government can do and we are proud to have been a part of it. The future of our community and economy is bright with the reliable, safe access this project will provide.”
The significance of the announcement cannot be understated, as each day LA 1 is closed cost the U.S. $46 million in oil and gas production and $528 million in total GDP.
Considering the impacts experienced from frequent flooding events, the project has taken on even more importance in recent years, as seen with 2019’s Hurricane Barry and this year’s Tropical Storm Cristobal.
These particular storms caused access to Port Fourchon to be shuttered for 42 and 20 hours, respectively, due to the closure of LA 1 immediately south of the Leon Theriot Lock to where the current elevated stretch of highway begins in Leeville.
These disruptions to the critical commerce that flows in and out of Port Fourchon have affected and continue to affect our nation’s energy security.
According to Chiasson, when completed, the final leg of the elevated highway will allow for prompt return to the port following storms and prevent delays in traveling down to Port Fourchon during high-water events that can be caused by severe thunderstorms, a persistent south wind, or simply the passage of a strong cold front.
“Obviously, this would change everything for us and our tenants,” Chiasson said. “While access and operations would be curtailed at the time of landfall, the business of the port itself could resume rapidly if it weren’t for the low-lying flooding that we currently experience on the unelevated portion of LA 1.”
The hope is that construction will commence in spring of next year with the lifespan of the project lasting about seven years and ending with completion around 2027.
The INFRA grant award provides the much-needed portion of the financial package necessary to complete the estimated $445 million project. Additional funding will come via $260 million allocated from the state and a combined $50 million from GLPC, Lafourche Parish Government, and private sources. The GLPC share of this is $25 million (or 5.6 percent) of the total project cost split out into $5 million payments over the next five years.
It must be emphasized that this grant is for new construction and DOES NOT affect the current toll for the bridge portion of the first phase of elevated highway in Leeville stretching southward to Port Fourchon.
“The toll that is accessed pays back the bonds and TIFIA loan that the state secured for the bridge that was constructed back in 2009,” Chiasson said.
While the toll for the bridge will remain in force for the foreseeable future, NO additional tolls will be added, as the financial package attached to the final leg of the highway WILL NOT require any loans or new taxes levied of state residents to be used for its construction.
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