A proposed link from Interstate 10 to La. 1 at La. 415 crossed another green light when the Senate Finance Committee responded favorably to the funding plan last week.
House Bill 578, sponsored by Houma Republican Tanner Magee, would allow diversion of funds from the near-$10 billion settlement from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The measure heads to the full Senate for a vote. The House approved the bill earlier this month.
The move marks the latest advance for the $345 million project, which would create a three-mile highway starting at the south end of La. 415 and ending on La. 1, south of the Intracoastal Waterway.
State Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen and state Rep. Jeremy Lacombe, R-Fordoche, along with Plaquemine Democratic state Rep. Chad Brown, have pushed for passage of the bill, which would bring relief to motorists along Interstate 10.
Traffic tie-ups – some along the Intracoastal Waterway, others along Interstate 10 – often lead to bottlenecks which stretch several miles west of 415 and extend well past the I-10/I-12 split in Baton Rouge.
The move would also help speed up the transportation of goods along one of the most crucial stretches of Interstate 10, which extends from Los Angeles to Jacksonville.
“This is a once in a 50-year opportunity,” Ward said during the hearing.
The project has already picked up financial support from the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and businesses along the industrial corridor of La. 1 and parts of I-10.
The proposal does not include a toll road, but Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot told the Parish Council a toll was not yet out of the question. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will not take on any more highway mileage, meaning the parish will be responsible for maintenance of the fly-over.
The Parish Council approved signing off on an agreement with DOTD last week. The four-lane highway will take about 26 months to design, which falls perfectly in line with the timing of funding, Berthelot said.
If approved, the project would have a target date of 2026 for completion.