SHREVEPORT – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined I-49 North Task Force officials, area legislators and local officials to announce that he is pursuing legislation in the upcoming legislative session to bond out $7.5 million in order to invest the estimated $60 million needed to construct one of the two remaining segments for I-49 North.
The $60 million will be put towards the funding of the 4.25-mile "J Segment" – from MLK Boulevard to LA 1 – which will leave only one mile of the interstate left to complete. Specifically, this legislation will expand the purposes for using the Unclaimed Property Leverage Fund to allow the dedication of these critical funds toward the completion of I-49 North. The bill will be authored by Representative Jane Smith.
Governor Jindal said, "This investment shows our continued strong commitment to finishing I-49 North and keeping Louisiana moving forward. Investing in our roads is critical for both economic development opportunities and hurricane evacuation needs. When we have completed this interstate, I-49 North will be a vital corridor for interstate commerce to support economic activity, as well as encouraging greater growth and investment."
Last year, Governor Jindal announced $44 million in capital outlay funding to complete a segment of I-49 North – from US 71S to LA 170. In 2009, a total of $89.8 million was invested in I-49 North. In 2008, Governor Jindal joined officials to help pour the concrete for the first segment of I-49 North. To date, the state has bid a total of nine contracts for construction of I-49 North projects – valued at a total of $460 million. A total of 31 of 36.25 miles of I-49 North are now fully funded and under construction.
Representative Henry Burns, Chair of the I-49 North Task Force said, "This project has been in the works for a long time, and we've seen incredible progress under the Jindal administration; that's a testament to the importance of the corridor to our economy. I look forward to working with the legislature and the governor to make sure we fully complete I-49 North."
Representative Jim Morris said, "As representative of District 1, I appreciate Governor Jindal’s continued support and commitment to fulfilling his promise of completing the I-49 North corridor."
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover said, "This is a great announcement for Shreveport. Governor Jindal traveled to our area countless times and told us that when he came to office, he would make I-49 north a top priority – and I can't be more pleased with the results. The state's investment in our region means a lot for this community, and when this corridor is complete I have no doubt all of Louisiana will reap the benefits."
Representative Jane Smith said, "I applaud Governor Jindal for his continued commitment in seeing this project all the way through. This road will open our northern border to the rest of the nation, allowing even more business and commerce to flow into our state, which is a great win for Louisiana."
Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator said, "This interstate project is something Caddo Parish and Shreveport have been counting on for a long time. The more we open our community to the rest of the nation – the more our city will grow, and that’s good for Louisiana. I applaud Governor Jindal for all he’s done in making this dream become a reality, and I’ll work with him to do whatever it takes to make sure we get to the finish line sooner rather than later."
President of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce Lisa Johnson said, "Simply put, this announcement is big news for our Northwest Louisiana business community. I-49 North will provide an easier route for people to visit our cities, to move goods to-and-from our communities and to do business in Louisiana. I’m happy to see Governor Jindal focus on our area and our state’s continued prosperity. The faster we complete this interstate, the faster we’ll see returns on our investments."