Today Governor John Bel Edwards, DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., the LA 1 Coalition and area leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of Phase II of the LA 1 Elevated Corridor.
Phase II will raise an 8.3-mile freeway from Golden Meadow to Leeville. Upon completion, 19.3 miles of highway will be elevated between Golden Meadow and Port Fourchon. Late last year, the $463 million Phase II contract was awarded to James Construction Group.
“This project is part of a much larger vision for Louisiana, which is why we have continued to invest in infrastructure and development,” Governor Edwards said. “This corridor will relieve regional transportation needs, create a resilient structure while boosting economic growth. This project was a priority of this administration due to the needs of the economy of the state and nation. I’m proud of Sec. Wilson and all the people who worked to earn the nation’s largest federal INFRA grant in 2020.”
In 2020, the US Department of Transportation awarded Louisiana $135 million from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant. This grant is intended for the completion of Phase II. In addition, an additional $150 million in construction financing comes from the BP Economic Damages pledged in ACT 443 of the state’s regular 2019 Legislative Session. This project also has a historic level of community buy-in, including a $25 million match commitment from Port Fourchon, multi-million dollars jointly committed by 20 private sector partners, and corresponding commitments of $1.2 million Dollars from both Lafourche Local Government and the LA 1 Coalition.
“Upgrading LA 1 has long been a top priority for me, and today’s monumental groundbreaking is a significant step forward for the security of our region and the energy security of the country,” said Congressman Steve Scalise. “I’m proud to have worked with local and state leaders to achieve this moment, having worked with Secretary of Transportation Chao to secure the country’s largest INFRA grant of 2020. The increase in LA 1 ensures that our state will continue to play a vital role in America’s energy dominance for decades to come.”
“Louisiana’s Gulf Coast is the energy coast of the United States,” said Dr. Bill Cassidy. “Port Fourchon supports the offshore industry that powers the rest of the country. This highway is essential to this effort. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re glad it’s here.”
“LA 1 is not only a victory for Louisiana, it’s a victory for the nation,” said Sec. Wilson. “Infrastructure creates jobs and promotes economic development. More than 1,300 trucks and heavy vehicles travel the LA 1 South Corridor daily to support port operations and power generation. The elevation of LA 1 solves the challenges encountered when port operations come to a standstill due to flooding on the existing level highway. We’re improving transportation to make Louisiana a better place to live, work and visit. This project is an example of how to move big projects forward. I congratulate the DOTD staff who worked tirelessly to secure the INFRA grant and the elected officials and private industry who made this project delivery possible.”
In addition to being a hurricane evacuation route, LA 1 also plays an important role in the economy. LA 1 serves 17 percent of US oil and gas production and is the only road leading to Port Fourchon, which handles nearly 90 percent of deepwater gas and oil production from the Gulf of Mexico.
“I am so proud that the federal government is once again stepping up to improve the underlying infrastructure here at home in Louisiana,” said Congressman Troy Carter. “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant, which is funding this necessary highway elevation, will help improve safety and protect our transportation routes for years to come.”
“Officially known as the ‘Billy Tauzin Energy Corridor,’ LA 1 is the trunk and root of Louisiana’s important history, culture and economy – Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, Power Generation, Shipbuilding, Seafood, Sportsman’s Paradise, Cajun Country, Tourism, Jobs and more,” Congressman Garret Graves said. “As we saw during Hurricane Ida, every day that artery is dysfunctional, America’s economy takes a hit, our economy takes a hit, our communities cannot be evacuated, and our national energy system is paralyzed. The reality is that LA 1 resilience means stronger and safer communities and more reliable energy economies. Without the decades of hard work and persistence of Billy Tauzin, the LA 1 Coalition, the Louisiana Legislature, and community and business leaders in coastal communities, this highway would be making waves, but instead, today we are breaking the foundation. Almost seven years ago, we wrote the federal law that resulted in prioritized federal funding for nationally significant energy corridors like LA1. This long-term strategy led directly to our ability to work with Rep. Scalise to bring home the largest transportation grant awarded in 2020 for this project. This is a perfect example of a local and true infrastructure solution that respects our national priorities. South Louisiana is worth the investment and worth protecting.”
For decades, raising LA 1 was a state priority, but lack of funding prevented progress. With the efforts of state, local, federal, and industry partners, as well as the LA 1 Coalition, the right funding is in place to make this final phase a reality.
Additional funds have been committed through the State Capital Outlay Program, the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, the Lafourche Parish Government, local landowners and the LA 1 Coalition.
The LA 1 improvement project is expected to be completed by the end of 2027, weather permitting.