By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A top transportation priority in Louisiana is halfway through the statehouse.
The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of two bills to get work completed on the state’s portion of Interstate 49. The legislation now moves to the Senate. If approved there, it would move to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Bobby Jindal filed the Capital Outlay Bill, which would enable completion of the I-49 project. The bill – HB2 – includes $73 million in funding to help finish one of the two remaining sections of the roadway.
The funds would enable the state to complete the north and south portions of I-49. The road stretches 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. HB370 would allow bonds secured by $7.5 million in unclaimed property funds to be used to complete the other remaining section 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 recent 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.
HB2 and HB370 are awaiting consideration in Senate committees.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.
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