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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards recently signed legislation that would direct $700 million to transportation projects across the state.
House Bill 578, which was signed June 28, relies on settlement money from the BP oil spill of 2010. Some of the major projects that will receive funding include the Interstate 49 North expansion near Shreveport and the Hooper Road widening east of downtown Baton Rouge.
“Signing this bill into law is another major accomplishment for the state’s infrastructure and I applaud the Legislature for targeting long-awaited projects that we know will help improve travel for motorists and provide economic benefits to the state,” Edwards said in a press release. “Despite overwhelming needs, we are finding innovative ways to fund important projects across Louisiana, which is necessary for the growth of our communities and state.”
The legislation also devotes $125 million to construct a 2.7-mile connector route between State Route 415 and State Route 1, both of which link to I-10 in West Baton Rouge Parish. In addition to a new four-lane road, the project will involve a bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
This connector route is meant to serve as an alternative route to provide local traffic relief during peak hours. It also provides a direct link for commercial vehicles traveling to intermodal facilities at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.
“The signing of HB 578 is a win for infrastructure,” Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson said in the press release. “The transportation needs are crucial throughout the state and impact our economy and quality of life. In West Baton Rouge, where I-10 is used as a major connector for local residents and motorists traveling across the country, this connector will greatly improve connectivity and will assist in alleviating some of the traffic congestion experienced on a daily basis. While this one-time investment is a good down payment, we have so much more we could achieve with sustainable infrastructure investment.”