BATON ROUGE - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced another major development in his administration’s commitment to improving multimodal transportation through Louisiana. With the support of the Joint Transportation Committee, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is prepared to begin a Design-Build solicitation to widen I-10 from Highland Rd. to LA 73. Once completed, this project will offer welcome relief to commuters between Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes.
“When I took office in January, my administration made a commitment to better maintain and build our state's infrastructure,” said Gov. Edwards. “Design-Build authority and leadership that can incorporate federal and state policy to our advantage can deliver big, meaningful projects for the state. This is only the beginning of what we can do together.”
DOTD plans to build this new segment of I-10 using FAST ACT authority allowing the state to repurpose certain federal earmarked funds. This federal transportation legislation authorizes state transportation departments to reallocate earmarks where money is remaining after projects were completed or had less than 10% obligated and were older than 10 years. It is widely anticipated that if Louisiana does not spend these dollars, they will be swept and lost to other states.
“We took a hard look at the language included in the FAST ACT and determined how best to use this to our advantage without hurting any community or project,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson.
DOTD identified eligible projects within its annual program in the same area as the original earmarked projects. The earmarked funds will be repurposed for these projects, in accordance with federal law, which in turn frees up regular highway funds. As a result, DOTD has pooled enough funds to widen this very critical section of I-10. In addition, DOTD has shortened the Design-Build procurement process by approximately 3-4 months, meaning this project will be under contract before this time next year.
The proposed project begins approximately 1/4 mile west of the I-10/Highland Rd. interchange and ends approximately 1/2 mile east of the I-10/LA 73 Interchange, a distance of approximately 7.0 miles. The project, as proposed, will widen the existing I-10 from a four-lane freeway section to a six-lane freeway section.
Because this project impacts travel conditions of the busiest stretch of interstate in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards and Secretary Wilson are requesting that the Chairman of the House and Senate Transportation Committees convene a joint committee meeting as soon as possible to authorize DOTD to begin the procurement process as outlined in law.
The I-10 corridor across Louisiana is critical to moving freight from the western coast of California to the eastern coast of Florida. Earlier this year, the state of Louisiana, through DOTD, was awarded a $60M FASTLANE grant to widen I-10 from I-49 to the Atchafalaya Basin. Gov. Edwards recently announced that DOTD is set to receive an additional $40M because of their ability to spend all federal dollars made available to them. This will bring the total expected investment in this project to $100M.