Privatized toll roads get green light in Louisiana

| Friday, June 23, 2006

Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a bill into law this month that allows the state to partner with private groups to build toll roads and toll bridges.

The bill, which swept through the Legislature, initially applied to projects – dubbed “megaprojects” – costing at least $250 million, The Times-Picayune reported. However, that threshold was later withdrawn.

Affected projects could include the expansion of Interstate 10 or the completion of the southern leg of Interstate 49 from Lafayette to the West Ban Expressway in New Orleans.

The new law, previously HB1294, authorizes the Louisiana Transportation Authority to work out details with private groups to build roads, bridges or expand an existing facility, The Times-Picayune reported. The private business would keep toll revenue in exchange for upkeep.

Any state project proposed by a private contractor would go before the House and Senate transportation panels for a review hearing. However, lawmakers couldn't reject proposed deals.

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