Funding approved for I-49 in Louisiana

| Thursday, July 19, 2007

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed a bill into law that is part of a package of bills that would authorize $95 million in new funding to help complete the state’s portion of Interstate 49.

The new law, previously HB531, directs $15 million annually from unclaimed property funds in the state to an account for work on the north and south portions of I-49. Unclaimed property funds are turned over to the state by businesses when the rightful private owners cannot be found.

Those funds will be split evenly to the north and south portions of I-49. The stretches run north from Interstate 20 in Shreveport to the Arkansas line and south from Interstate 10 in Lafayette to the West Bank Expressway in New Orleans.

The money can be used to match with federal funds or be bonded for construction purposes.

A separate bill – HB765 – signed by Blanco authorizes $60 million in surplus spending to be earmarked for the northern portion of I-49.

Another piece of legislation – HB2 – still atop the governor’s desk, includes a provision to authorize selling bonds for I-49. The bonds from the capital-outlay bill would amount to another $20 million in funding to be equally divided between the sections of the roadway.

The $95 million in new state funds for the project would ultimately result in a total of $475 million becoming available for work on I-49. The federal government will chip in $380 million in matching funds when the state’s congressional delegation comes up with the necessary federal money, The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, LA, reported.

The project to complete I-49 has a price tag of more than $1 billion.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2007, click here.

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