The Louisiana Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday to spend $150 million to complete the elevation of La. 1 from Leeville to Golden Meadow.
House Bill 578 will head back to the House for concurrence before hitting Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk.
The La. 1 spending package is part of $700 million that will be spent statewide from yearly BP economic damage payments from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Once finalized, the money will be set aside beginning in the 2021 fiscal year.
The LA 1 Coalition celebrated the bill’s passage Monday. The coalition has been working to find funding for this phase of the project since the last phase was finished in 2011.
“The Coalition wants to thank our state delegation from the region, from Representative Tanner Magee for heading the effort on the House side to Sen. Chabert and Rick Ward for chairing this effort on the Senate side,” LA 1 Director Henri Boulet said. “We could not have done it without their dedication to making a significant investment in our state infrastructure.”
The Coalition has made similar, yet unsuccessful, large plays for state funding in the past. This time, Boulet said the bill’s success as a statewide spending measure and strong community support helped get it passed.
“We had a large coalition of stake holders supporting the bill, think that’s what it takes now to get something like this passed,” he said.
With the state allocation, the project is now poised to receive match funding from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.
That match request will come from the state, but the LA1 Coalition will continue to work with state leaders to push the project forward, Boulet said.
Construction will depend on the availability of those federal funds. The project would still need about $40 million to become fully funded, however, he said.
“This bill, and the spending of this money for the statewide economic damages that we suffered due to that disaster is going to represent a coming to a close … to our settlements with the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, said.
The bill was primarily sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, and Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen.
“If we had not had Tanner make this a commitment of his in this session, I don’t think we would be where we are today,” Boulet said.
It was heavily amended from the version that was introduced in the House that only provided funding for the La. 1 and La. 415 projects. After being presented to the House, many representatives wanted the BP economic damage funds to have a larger impact across the state.
“We put a lot of time and effort to make sure we address preservation, capacity and economic development and tried to touch every corner of the state,” Ward said.
While the bill provides for about $700 million headed straight to projects, local matching dollars bring the total impact up to “well over $1 billion in projects, each and every one of them having a huge economic impact in their area,” Sen. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.
Posted on Tue, June 4, 2019
by By Julia Arenstam Daily Comet Staff Writer