Baton Rouge: the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced its update and plan for the continued development of I-49 South, which will result in $3.7 billion in cost savings. The I-49 South project will convert 160 miles of U.S. 90 from Lafayette to New Orleans into an interstate-quality roadway enhancing travel between the two cities but ultimately across the state and nation once completed.
In its efforts to move forward on I-49 South, DOTD recently completed a study that analyzed the corridor from Raceland to the Westbank Expressway and from Wax Lake Outlet to Berwick. The study helped find improvements and efficiencies to lower costs and re-evaluated the concept for converting U.S. 90 to an interstate facility.
"The results of this study offers revised plans that not only significantly reduce the total cost of the corridor, but also how the design concept can be implemented in a phased approach”, said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. “This phased implementation approach is a great deal for tax payers and provides immediate benefits to the traveling public when it is constructed.”
Results of the study include revised plans that could result in shorter project implementation periods. The revised plans would:
- Transform an 11-mile section of U.S. 90 in St. Mary Parish to interstate standards, reducing the estimated cost from $460 million to $250 million
- Address the 36-mile section in Lafourche, St. Charles, and Jefferson parishes reducing the estimated cost from $4.8 billion to $1.3 billion
In addition to completion of the interstate, the revised plan has identified a 15-project interim improvement program for safety and efficiency that can be accomplished independently of interstate construction. The interim program consists of generally lower cost local improvement projects that could be implemented in the near term at an estimated cost of $164 million.
Details of the revised plans for the I-49 South corridor from Raceland to the Westbank Expressway and from Wax Lake Outlet to Berwick will be further evaluated through Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (SEIS) as part of the NEPA process (National Environmental Policy Act). The SEIS process is expected to begin in 2014 and will include public outreach by DOTD.
Several I-49 South projects that have been completed or are underway including major projects such as:
· $24.5M – I-49 South (U.S. 90 Interchange at La. 85) – This project upgraded the interchange at U.S. 90 and La. 85 to I-49 standards by creating two new parallel overpasses on U.S. 90 over La. 85. The design-build project improved traffic flow and highway safety. Work on the project began in February 2010 and was completed in June 2011.
· $10.7M – U.S. 90 Frontage Roads at the intersections of La. 675 and La. 88 – This project built new frontage roads on U.S. 90 at the interchanges of La. 675 and La. 88. The project began in March 2009 and finished in January 2011.
· $5.8M – U.S. 90 frontage roads from John Darnell Road to La. 85 – This project will construct new frontage roads along U.S. 90 between John Darnell Road and La. 85. Work on the project began in August 2012 and will finish in January 2014.
· $5.4M – U.S. 90 frontage roads from La. 83 and Darnall Rd. – This project constructed new frontage roads and/or converted portions of the existing service roads to frontage roads on U.S. 90 from La. 83 to Darnall Road. Work on the project began in April 2010 and finished in February 2012.
· $1.4M – U.S. 90 Service Roads – Capt. Cade Road – This project constructed service roads to connect Capt. Cade Road to the interchange at U.S. 90/La. 88. Work on the project began in November 2011 and was completed in August 2012.
· $20M – U.S. 90 from Pinhook Road to Broussard – This capacity project will widen U.S. 90 from four lanes to six lanes from Pinhook Road to Broussard. Approximately 50,000 drivers a day travel on this portion of U.S. 90. The total amount of the project, $20M, is being funded with 2008 surplus funds. Work on this 7.19-mile project began in late April 2010 and finished in October 2012.
In addition, major upcoming projects include:
Saint Mary Parish:
- $30M-$50M - U.S. 90 Interchange at La. 318 – The proposed project will to construct an interchange on U.S. 90 at La. 318. Bids are tentatively scheduled to be taken for the work in FY2015/2016.
- $10M-$15M - Railroad Crossing Overpass between La. 85 and La. 668 – This project involves constructing a railroad overpass just south of La. 85, between La. 85 to La. 668. At this time, a feasibility study is being conducted to examine build options that could reduce the overall cost of the proposed project. Bids are tentatively scheduled to be taken for the work in FY2015/2016.
- $75M-$85M – I-49 South design build project – The proposed design-build project will widen U.S. 90 to six-lanes and potentially construct several miles of frontage roads and multiple overpasses along U.S. 90/I-49 South corridor from north of Ambassador Caffery Parkway to Albertsons Parkway in Lafayette Parish. DOTD plans to award the design-build by late 2013/early 2014, with an estimated construction time of three years.
- $55M-$75M - U.S. 90 Interchange at Ambassador Caffery – The proposed project will construct an interchange at Ambassador Caffery and U.S. 90. This project is currently in the design stage. Bids for construction are tentatively scheduled to be taken for the work in FY2015/2016.
Totaling approximately 160 miles, the I-49 South project currently has more than 100 miles completed or currently under construction.
The completion of I-49 South will improve the daily commute for workers by decreasing travel time and increasing safety by providing an unhindered flow of traffic.
Once complete, the extension of I-49 will provide a direct access of Midwest industries to the ports of south Louisiana, a bypass around Baton Rouge for traffic on I-10, and a connection between oil industry suppliers and manufacturers from New Orleans to Houston.