BATON ROUGE - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Division Administrator William “Tony” Sussmann inked the Record of Decision (ROD) Wednesday, January 29, 2003, for a new alignment of LA 1 that will ensure continued connection of Port Fourchon with the rest of the nation.
The approximately $520 million project will maintain a critical link to the South Louisiana port which plays a large role in the transportation of both foreign and domestic oil supplies.
LA 1, a two-lane highway that has experienced a 24-percent increase in truck traffic since last January, is the only road connecting the port to the rest of the nation. In 2001, Congress added LA 1 to the federal list of High Priority Corridors because of its importance to the national energy supply.
“This approval represents more than just providing easier access to a busy port,” DOTD Secretary Kam Movassaghi said. “It represents an assured access to our nation’s vital energy supply.”
Movassaghi also noted that the improvements would enhance emergency preparedness for the residents of Grand Isle as well as the offshore petroleum industry.
Port Fourchon services approximately 16 percent of the nation’s supply of crude oil and natural gas and handles more than 75 percent of the current oil and gas production in the central Gulf of Mexico.
More than 600 offshore oil and gas platforms lie within a 40-mile radius of Port Fourchon and more than 35,000 residents and workers rely on LA 1 for hurricane evacuation.
The improvements will also benefit Louisiana’s vital seafood industry. Each day, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s value of seafood is transported via LA 1 to numerous destinations.
Commercial fishing vessels make nearly 4,000 round trips per year in and out of Port Fourchon. Additionally, Grand Isle is a major commercial fishing and recreational location in the vicinity. This area is considered one of the top fishing spots in the world.
Two of the largest sources of tourism revenue for this region come from recreational hunters and fishermen who travel LA 1 in pursuit of these activities.
“For years, local residents and the thousands of energy workers who travel through Port Fourchon have recognized the immense importance of LA 1. Today, our message is being heard in Baton Rouge and in Washington, D.C.” Loulan Pitre, State Representative of District 54 (R), said. “Now more than ever, improvements to this significant highway system are not only a local need but a national necessity.”
The approval of the ROD allows state and federal authorities to move forward with engineering, design, surveying and right-of-way acquisition for the total project. The first phase of the project will entail replacing the Leeville Bridge.
“These improvements will enhance hurricane evacuation, facilitate additional economic development and play a significant role in enhancing our nation’s energy flow and furthering its energy policy,” Sussmann said, after signing the ROD at the Greater Lafourche Port Commission Operation Center in Port Fourchon.
“The record of decision is a milestone of sorts,” Sussmann added. “Now this important project can move forward in its quest to secure federal funding.”
In addition to DOTD and the FHWA, other state and federal agencies present at the signing included the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, the Eighth District U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the Department of Natural Resources and the Barataria -Terrebone National Estuary Program. Also present were members of the LA 1 Coalition and numerous local and state business leaders.
For additional project information, contact DOTD’s Michele Deshotels at (225) 379-1226.