Gov. Edwards, State, and Local Leaders Break Ground on Phase II of LA-1 Improvement Project

Published 11:24 am Friday, June 24, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, La.— 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 on Phase II of the elevated LA 1 corridor.

Phase II will elevate 8.3 miles of highway from Golden Meadow to Leeville. Once complete, 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 a piece of a much grander vision for Louisiana, which is why we have continued to invest in infrastructure and development,” said Gov. Edwards. “This corridor will provide relief for regional transportation needs, creating a resilient structure all while stimulating economic growth. This project was a priority of this administration because of the needs to the economy of the state and the nation. I’m proud of Sec. Wilson and all the people who worked to secure the nation’s largest federal INFRA grant in 2020.”

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Louisiana $135 million from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant. This grant is dedicated to completing Phase II. In addition, an additional $150 million of construction funding is coming from the BP Economic Damages committed in ACT 443 of the state’s 2019 Regular Legislative Session. This project also has a historical level of community buy-in, including a $25 million match commitment from Port Fourchon, multi-million dollars pledged collectively from 20 private industry partners, and matching $1.2 million dollar pledges from both Lafourche Parish Government and the LA 1 Coalition.

“Elevating LA 1 has long been a top priority of mine, and today’s monumental groundbreaking is a significant step forward for our region’s safety and the nation’s energy security,” said Congressman Steve Scalise. “I’m proud to have worked with local and state leaders to get to this moment after I worked with Transportation Secretary Chao to secure the largest INFRA grant in the country in 2020. Elevating LA 1 ensures our state will continue to play an essential role in American energy dominance for decades to come.”

“Louisiana’s Gulf coast is the energy coast for the United States,” said Dr. Bill Cassidy. “Port Fourchon supports the off-shore industry that fuels the rest of the country. Having 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 win for Louisiana, but for the nation as well,” said Sec. Wilson. “Infrastructure creates jobs and ignites economic development. More than 1,300 trucks and heavy vehicles travel the LA 1 southern corridor daily to support port activity and energy production. Elevating LA 1 solves the challenges presented when port activity comes to a halt because of flooding on the existing at-grade highway. We are advancing transportation to make Louisiana a better place to live, work, and visit. This project is an example of how to move large projects forward. I applaud the DOTD staff who worked tirelessly to secure the INFRA grant and to the elected officials and private industry who made this project delivery possible.”

Along with being a hurricane evacuation route, LA 1 plays a vital role in the economy. LA 1 services 17 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and is the only roadway leading to Port Fourchon, which handles nearly 90 percent of deep-water gas and petroleum extraction from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I am so proud that the federal government is once again showing 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 that is financing 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, energy production, ship building, seafood, Sportsman’s Paradise, Cajun Country, tourism, jobs and more,” said Congressman Garret Graves. “As we saw during Hurricane Ida, every day this artery is inoperable, America’s economy takes a hit, our economy takes a hit, our communities can’t evacuate, and our national energy system is paralyzed. The reality is that LA 1 resiliency means stronger and safer communities, and a more reliable energy economy. Without the decades of hard work and persistence of Billy Tauzin, the LA 1 Coalition, the Louisiana Legislature, and community and business leaders in the Coastal Parishes, this highway would be breaking waves, but instead today we’re breaking ground. Nearly seven years ago, we wrote the federal law that resulted in prioritized federal funds for nationally significant energy corridors like LA 1. That long-term strategy directly resulted in our ability to partner 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 real infrastructure solution that addresses our national priorities. South Louisiana is worth this investment and is worth protecting.”

For decades, elevating LA 1 has been a priority for the state, but the lack of funding prevented progress. With efforts from the state, local, federal, and industry partners, as well as the LA 1 Coalition, the proper funding is in place to make this final phase a reality.

Additional funds were pledged through the State Capital Outlay Program, the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, Lafourche Parish Government, local landowners, and the LA 1 Coalition.

The LA 1 Improvement Project is expected to be complete by the end of 2027, weather permitting.