Year-end review showcases DOTD’s strides in improving Louisiana’s roads and bridges

Year-end review showcases DOTD’s strides in improving Louisiana’s roads and bridges

POSTED: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 12:15pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 12:19pm

Today, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Sherri H. LeBas announced that the state has invested over $668 million in transportation infrastructure projects in 2012, resulting in 372 projects that helped to improve over 1,000 miles of Louisiana’s roadways and 71 bridges.

LeBas said, “DOTD is committed to projects that will preserve our highway system, improve travel, enhance safety, and create economic opportunities throughout the state.”

The state continues to prioritize projects along major corridors and has reduced Louisiana’s backlog of road and bridge needs by nearly $2 billion. The continued investment has helped to create a safer and more efficient highway system for drivers in Louisiana.

2012 Year in Review

The passage of key legislation to bond the State Highway Improvement Fund (SHIF) revenue stream for non-federal aid routes, combined with the SHIF’s regular funds, allowed for the implementation of the Quality Surface Program. This more than $425 million initiative will resurface and repair approximately 1,100 miles of roadways across the state, many in rural areas, which in some cases haven’t been touched in over 30 years.

In February, DOTD celebrated an I-49 South milestone with the completion of the U.S. 90 Frontage Roads project from La. 83 to Darnall Road. This $5.4 million, 2.75-mile, project constructed new frontage roads and, in some areas, converted portions of the existing service roads to frontage roads. Additionally, in October, DOTD marked another I-49 South achievement with the completion of the U.S. 90 widening project. This $20 million capacity project widened U.S. 90 from four to six lanes from Pinhook Road to Broussard. The I-49 South project will ultimately convert U.S. 90 from Lafayette to New Orleans into an interstate-quality roadway.

Also in February, construction on the new $409 million John James Audubon Bridge came to a close under the (Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development) TIMED Program. With a 1,583-foot main span, the new bridge is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere, connecting Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes. While the bridge itself is a significant engineering achievement, it is also the first design-build project undertaken by DOTD.

The TIMED Program is the single largest transportation program in state history. The TIMED Program was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature and was voted for by the people. The $4.6 billion improvement program includes widening 536 miles of state highways to four lanes on 11 project corridors, widening and/or new construction on three major bridges, and improvements to both the Port of New Orleans and Louis Armstrong International Airport. The program is improving the quality of life for motorists, residents, and businesses by enhancing economic development through an investment in transportation projects.

Also, under the TIMED Program, DOTD announced the completion of one of the final projects in the $936 million initiative to widen the U.S. 165 corridor. The completion of U.S. 425 from Bastrop to Log Cabin project (U.S. 165 becomes U.S. 425 in Bastrop) widened 220 miles of U.S. 165/425 to four lanes from Lake Charles to the Arkansas State line.

In June, DOTD celebrated the completion of the $146 million widening project along I-12, from O’Neal to Juban under the state’s $315 million Geaux Wider Program. The widening of this segment provides congestion relief to approximately 85,000 drivers traveling this segment daily and will help to foster and maintain economic growth for new and current businesses along the corridor.

The Geaux Wider program is a multi-year construction initiative designed to increase capacity, improve safety and enhance mobility on Interstates 10 and 12 in East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

In April 2012, DOTD announced the new $90 million Paths to Progress Program to repair, restore and enhance more than 60 roadways in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

Safety on Louisiana’s roadways continues to be a top priority. Through the Destination Zero Deaths initiative, Louisiana has seen a dramatic 32 percent reduction in traffic fatalities with the unified efforts of the Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, Louisiana State Police, and DOTD working in cooperation with local public works departments and local law enforcement.

In the last year, DOTD has been involved in a number of initiatives designed to increase safety on state roadways. These include:

o 2,100 miles of centerline rumble strips to reduce head-on collisions
o 50 new ITS cameras to facilitate better communication among drivers, traffic operations staff and emergency response personnel 
o 900 interstate miles of enhanced mile markers to improve emergency response times and help motorists to better report accidents, breakdowns, and other roadway incidents
o More than 80 miles of cable barriers statewide to prevent head-on collisions, including a recently completed project that installed 20 miles on I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans

Since the Jindal administration took office in January 2008, an unprecedented $4.9 billion has been invested in Louisiana’s infrastructure. This includes more than 2,100 projects and approximately 5,000 miles of roadway improvements.

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