BATON ROUGE - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson and local elected officials to highlight a major transportation project in Baton Rouge. The Edwards administration is investing more than $20 million to advance the construction of a new off-ramp to relieve the merging conflict for motorists at the Washington Street exit on I-10. Last month, Gov. Edwards secured a $60 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund a project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. By partially funding that project through federal resources, the state of Louisiana is able to reallocate financial resources to other projects throughout the state, including the Washington Street off-ramp.
“The Washington Street exit along I-10 is one of the most congested portions of interstate in the country,” said Gov. Edwards. “By engaging our federal partners and bringing our tax dollars home to Louisiana, we can improve our infrastructure, grow our economy and make life easier on the citizens who live, work and travel through this region. I appreciate the hard work of DOTD over the last seven months to get us to this point, and I am confident that the Capital Region will be positively impacted by this critical work. Going forward, I am committed to partnering with the federal government to make critical investments in infrastructure throughout our state.”
"The benefit of the FASTLANE award is significant for other state priories," DOTD Secretary Wilson said. "This allows the state to provide independent utility in the form of a new left side off-ramp that will ease traffic in the vicinity of Washington Street."
With the funds made available through the FASTLANE grant, Gov. Edwards is allocating $20-$25 million dollars of state money to the construction of this new project. Construction of this new off-ramp is now funded and awaiting final plans. To get to the construction phase, DOTD in the last 7 months accelerated the interchange modification report and expects completion by the end of 2016.
Simultaneously, the state began the environmental process and the design of the new off-ramp at Terrace Street. This forward leaning strategy was necessary to achieve the goal of construction to begin in late 2017 or early 2018.
In April, the Edwards administration formally submitted an application for the federal transportation grant, following through with a commitment from Gov. Edwards to bring federal dollars back to Louisiana to reinvest in infrastructure.
By investing in this project, the state will now have the ability to dedicate available funds to advance other infrastructure projects, including the Washington Street off-ramp. Gov. Edwards announced the award in July, outlining various projects that would progress in Louisiana.
Additionally, in June 2016, Gov. Edwards announced the creation of the Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment. The task force will make recommendations to Gov. Edwards to improve infrastructure in the state.
The duties of the task force include: