ST. FRANCISVILLE– Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, and state and local officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at First Baptist Church in St. Francisville to celebrate the completion of the U.S. 61 corridor in West Feliciana Parish. The completion of the final segment of U.S. 61 from St. Francisville to Bains widens U.S. 61 to four lanes from just north of Baton Rouge to the Mississippi State line. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Governor also highlighted $70.8 million in transportation investments for West Feliciana Parish to improve infrastructure, enhance commutes and make the region more accessible to the state and the nation.
Governor Jindal said, "Since I’ve been in office, my administration has dedicated over $4 billion to transportation and infrastructure improvement projects to move Louisiana forward. Widening projects such as U.S. 61 strengthen critical corridors throughout our state by increasing safety, improving evacuation routes and providing for more efficient movement of goods and services, which supports our businesses and helps create more jobs for our people."
The U.S. 61 corridor project widened approximately 22.1 miles of U.S. 61 in West Feliciana Parish at a construction value of $64.8 million under DOTD’s Louisiana Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) Program. The project was divided into four segments.
Work on the first segment began in 2001. The final segment, which opened today, widened 5.4 miles from St. Francisville to Bains and included widening the bridge at Alexander Creek. Work began in October 2008 on this segment, which was awarded to JB James Construction for $29.5 million. Approximately 10,000 people travel this stretch of roadway each day.
"From the recent opening of the $408 million John James Audubon Bridge to the completion of the $64.8 million U.S. 61 TIMED corridor, there is a lot of good news to share about the infrastructure improvements we have made in this community," said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E. "Projects such as this will have an immediate positive impact on safety and provide this area the opportunity to expand its business reach in the future."
"The improvements along this corridor should enhance public safety and will also help stimulate economic growth by providing improved access for the delivery of goods and increase business reach," said Senator Neil Riser.
"Combined with the completion of the new John James Audubon Bridge and its connector roads linking West Feliciana Parish/St. Francisville with Point Coupee Parish/New Roads, the widening of this highway completes a major north-south corridor," said Representative Tom McVea.
"Widening U.S. 61 not only enriches the quality of life for residents in this parish, but enhances travel for visitors to this region and encourages economic development for our parish." said Police Juror President Ken Dawson, West Feliciana Parish.
"This is a great day for the Town of St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish and the state of Louisiana. Widening this corridor will stimulate economic growth, improve commerce and provide a better route for motorists traveling between St. Francisville and Baton Rouge," said Mayor Billy D'Aquilla, Town of St. Francisville.
The TIMED Program is the single largest transportation program in Louisiana history. The program is designed to enhance economic development in Louisiana through an investment in transportation projects, and is funded by a dedicated $0.04 per gallon gasoline and motor fuels tax. It was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature and was approved by a vote of the people.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Governor Jindal discussed $70.8 million in transportation investments for West Feliciana Parish.
Included in the $70.8 million is an investment of $19 million for U.S. 61 from Thompson Creek to St. Francisville. This TIMED project involved widening 4.5 miles of the existing two-lane portion of U.S. 61 from Thompson Creek to St. Francisville to four lanes. The project began in July 2008 and all lanes of traffic were opened in May 2011. Additionally, the Jindal administration invested $1.1 million for La. 965 from U.S. 61 to La. 966. This surplus project patched and resurfaced 4.8 miles of La. 965 and now allows access to Audubon State Park and U.S. 61. The project began in March 2009 and finished in June 2009.