Today, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Sherri H. LeBas participated in a ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on segment J of I-49 North. The $49.4 million project will construct approximately 4.3 miles of interstate in Shreveport from Martin Luther King Boulevard to La. 1. The ceremony was held at the Christian Faith Worship Center Church International, where LeBas was joined by state and local officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking.
Secretary LeBas said, "As we kick off the start of construction, I am delighted to know that this project will boost Louisiana’s infrastructure, which in turn will help to strengthen the overall economic growth throughout the state."
Funding for the project was made possible in 2011 by the signing of HB 370, coupled with the Governor’s capital outlay bill, which included $73 million to construct the final two segments (J and K). This key legislation utilized the Unclaimed Property Leverage Fund help complete I-49 North.
Approximately five miles remain to be constructed of the new 36-mile interstate system, which will stretch from the Arkansas border to I-220. DOTD anticipates opening the new portions of
I-49 North, between La. 1 to U.S. 71, by late summer to early fall of 2013.
DOTD broke ground on the first I-49 North project in the fall of 2006. Since then, four segments have been completed (A-D) and five others are under construction (E-I). The $670 million project is estimated to complete in late 2016.
"This project brings us one step closer to the completion of I-49 North," said Senator Sherri Buffington. "I-49 North will pave the way for economic growth in this region and will create a more efficient route to move goods and services across our state."
"This pavement means more than just a new road. It represents our commitment to this project, to this region and to the economic opportunities I-49 North will create for the entire state," said Senator Greg Tarver.
"I know how important the completion of I-49 North is to this area," said Representative Henry Burns. "This new corridor will not only provide an economic boost for local communities along the route, but more importantly offer a safer drive for motorists."
"I-49 North is an investment in infrastructure that ensures new economic growth for Louisiana," said Representative Jim Morris. "This project is yet another example of how Governor Jindal and DOTD are working together to move Louisiana forward."
Caddo Commissioner Lyndon Johnson stated, "Today is a good day. We welcome this next segment of I-49 as a step closer to north-south interstate travel. We also embrace the opportunity for increased commercial business and new residential development."
"I'd like to thank Governors Jindal, Blanco and Foster for their collective commitment to completing I-49 North," said Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. "Much credit is also due to the members of our legislative delegation, both current and former members. All of these efforts were spurred by civic leaders throughout the region and effectively supported by DOTD staff."
"Beginning construction on Segment J of I-49 North is another positive step forward toward the completion of this interstate. The Shreveport Chamber thanks the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, as well as local and federal officials, for their continuing efforts to complete this highway and help us realize the significant benefits it will bring to our region," stated Murray Viser, Chairman of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.
Lisa Johnson, President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, said, "With every groundbreaking for I-49, Northwest Louisiana moves closer to connecting economic partnerships throughout the United States."
Gard Wayt, Executive Director for the I-49 International Coalition, said, "The I-49 Coalition commends DOTD and the administration for their diligence in pursuing the completion of I-49 in Louisiana. We are delighted that construction is now beginning on Segment J (the next to last of the eleven segments of the I-49 North Extension), and we eagerly anticipate being able to drive on other portions of I-49 in North Caddo Parish before the end of this year. As Al Kessler would say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Additionally, this segment of I-49 has been designated the Alvin B. Kessler Memorial Highway. Mr. Kessler was one of the original advocates for the I-49 North projects. Al made significant efforts to ensure I-49 North was funded not only across the country, but also right here in Northwest Louisiana.
The final segment of I-49 North is scheduled to go to bid in December of 2013. Segment K will connect Martin Luther King Blvd to I-220 and is estimated to cost $150-$175 million. It is estimated to take approximately two years to construct.
Currently, Louisiana and Arkansas are simultaneously working on their portions of the interstate system. Missouri completed their portion of I-49 in December of 2012. Long-term plans call for I-49 to be extended from Lafayette to New Orleans and north from Shreveport to Kansas City, MO, where it will connect with other interstates and provide a seamless link from Louisiana ports to the Canadian border.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 930 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email email@example.com, or call DOTD's Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).