By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A top transportation priority in Louisiana has received a big boost from the governor.
Gov. Bobby Jindal filed his Capital Outlay Bill, which would enable completion of the state’s portion of Interstate 49. The bill includes $73 million in funding to help finish the final section of the roadway.
The funds would enable the state to complete 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.
Combined with a separate bill, Jindal said all 11 sections of the I-49 north project to Arkansas would be fully funded. Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier City, is the sponsor of a bill – HB370 – to allow bonds secured by unclaimed property funds to be used to complete one of the two remaining sections of the project.
Unclaimed property funds are turned over to the state by businesses when the rightful private owners cannot be found.
Jindal said that completion of the project would be a significant accomplishment for the state.
“This is an important priority. It helps to grow our economy. It helps to facilitate commerce,” Jindal said in a statement.
Sherri LeBas, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, is also touting the benefits to the state.
“The I-49 north projects will open a vital north/south connector, helping goods to move more quickly,” LeBas stated.
If the legislation is approved, supporters say the project would be finished by 2016.
The Capital Outlay Bill – HB2 – is in the House Ways and Means Committee. HB370 is awaiting consideration on the House floor. If approved there, it would advance to the Senate.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.
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