BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will finish three major bridge projects two years ahead of schedule, spurring future economic development in south Louisiana and saving the state at least $20 million, DOTD Secretary Johnny Bradberry announced Monday.
The major change in the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program will involve three projects – construction of the St. Francisville and Florida Avenue bridges and the widening of the Huey P. Long Bridge. Those three projects now are scheduled to be completed by 2010, two years ahead of schedule.
“By completing these projects early, we also are prompting economic growth,” Bradberry said. “Governor Blanco has made economic development her top priority, and this administration is not only tearing down barriers to development, we literally are building bridges to opportunity.
“Two years earlier is a significant advance when people are counting on a new bridge to help improve their way of life,” Bradberry said.
By finishing the projects early, the state can realize approximately $20 million in savings by avoiding two years of inflationary construction and interest costs. The state can expect additional financial benefits through increased development, according to David Kane, Director of Logistics/Transportation Cluster Development with Louisiana Economic Development.
“Economic Development happens along highways,” Kane said, noting that the Federal Highway Administration estimates that, for every $1 billion spent on highways, about 42,000 jobs are created.
Bradberry talked about the TIMED acceleration on Monday at the regular meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club.
Officials in St. Francisville and Jefferson Parish were pleased by the announcement.
“We're excited that the TIMED program has progressed to this point and appreciate the support of Secretary Bradberry in accelerating the program,” said Curtis Jelks, Chairman of the Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission. “The completion of the bridge will also increase tourism, as well as improve business opportunities throughout this corridor.”
“Jefferson Parish commends Governor Blanco and Secretary Bradberry for their leadership in recognizing how important the modernization of the Huey P. Long Bridge is to fulfilling the economic development potential of southeast Louisiana,” Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said. He also noted that widening the bridge “will create for the first time a strong sense of unity between the east bank and west bank of Jefferson Parish.”
The TIMED Program was created by legislation in 1989 as a pay-as-you-go program funded by a four-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax. In 2000, the completion date was estimated at 2031; two years later, that date was moved up to 2012 through bond sales.
Other projects in the $4 billion TIMED program include four-laning three new north-south routes (U.S. 171, U.S. 167 and U.S. 165), improvements to U.S. 61, U.S. 90, LA 15, LA 3241, Earhart Boulevard, Tchoupitoulas Corridor and West Napoleon. The program also paid for improvements at the Louis Armstrong International Airport and the Port of New Orleans.
More information about TIMED is available at www.timedla.com or by calling the TIMED Public Outreach Office at (866) 846-3352.