By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A new Louisiana law is billed as a boon for industries dependent on trucking.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law Thursday, July 7, to line up funding for the long-sought extension of Interstate 49 north of Shreveport. Work on the project could be complete by 2016.
HB370 allows the Department of Transportation and Development to use bonds secured by unclaimed property funds to help complete the extension that will stretch from Interstate 220 north of Shreveport to the Arkansas line. Work is already underway on multiple segments.
Unclaimed property funds are turned over to the state by businesses when the rightful private owners cannot be found.
Combined with funding in the governor’s capital outlay bill – HB2 – money is lined up to complete the final segments.
The unclaimed property funds will account for $7.5 million. Adding $73 million from capital outlay funds is expected to allow the state to complete the final two segments of the roadway.
“This bill, coupled with our capital outlay investments, means I-49 north will soon be completed, after years of waiting,” Jindal said in a statement.
State officials say completing I-49 from Shreveport to Kansas City will be a boon not only for the state, but for the nation.
“The I-49 north project will open a vital north/south connector, helping goods to move more quickly across the country and through Louisiana,” DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas stated.
Construction is slated to begin on a segment stretching from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to state Highway 1 in summer 2012. Work on the final segment connecting I-220 to MLK Boulevard is scheduled to start as early as summer 2013.
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