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Belle Chasse Bridge Meeting - Wednesday, May 29, 2019

posted May 28, 2019, 1:57 PM by Algiers Neighborhood Presidents Council   [ updated May 28, 2019, 1:59 PM ]

DOTD announces 2 public hearings for the Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 9:31:42 AM
Baton Rouge - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announces that the team that submitted a Public Private Partnership proposal to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the replacement structure will participate in two public hearings with DOTD to inform the public and receive comments on the proposal. 

On Wednesday, May 29, the chairs of the House and Senate Transportation will travel to Plaquemines Parish for a public meeting at the Belle Chasse Civic Auditorium, 8398, Hwy 23 in Belle Chasse from 6-8 p.m. The meeting will consist of the DOTD presenting a short overview of the process, followed by the proposal sharing key elements of the proposal, including tolls rates and length of the concession, followed by the department discussing it’s rating of the proposal. The public will be given an opportunity to comment on the contents of the proposal. 

“We have come a long way to get this point,” said DOTD Dr. Shawn Wilson. “When we first launched this P3 concept here in Plaquemines in early of 2018, a great deal of work was still needed. We have since completed the environmental process, have all preliminary permits, secured an additional $45M INFRA Grant, and have completed procurement of the first infrastructure Public Private Partnership in the state’s history.”

"This has been a very interesting and professionally managed process,” said Rep. Chris Leopold, State Representative for District 105. “We have never been this close to replacing this major bridge, and I am happy the state accommodated my request to have the public engaged, and to ensure that the citizens are given an opportunity to hear the outcome of the process, including toll rates. We have patiently participated in the process and I hope the public comes out to hear outcome.”

The Joint committee on Highway, Transportation & Public works will be meeting on Thursday morning in Baton Rouge upon adjournment of the Senate to provide a second opportunity for the public to comment.

“I want to commend the department and thank the citizens for having a very healthy, professional, and productive process,” said Senator Troy Carter, District 7. “While tolling is never the first choice, the reality is that infrastructure like this will require additional revenues, and we have pulled together two-third of the funding that’s needed. It is important to recognize tolling may be a viable option to move this project forward. This P3 project can be an example for other projects across Louisiana that we alone cannot afford to build.”

Following both hearings, the DOTD and the proposed developer will review all public comments and determine if any adjustments can be made. If accepted, the P3 proposer will maintain the new bridge through the period of its contract with DOTD and will recoup its investment through tolls paid by motorists using the new bridge. 

The P3 will be combined with funds from the $45 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant that DOTD received in June 2018, as well as $26.2 million in federal funds allocated to DOTD, $12 million in federal funds allocated to the Regional Planning Commission, and up to $12 million in GARVEE Bond proceeds. With this financing, DOTD is committed to building a fixed, four-lane bridge to replace the tunnel and moveable bridge on LA 23 in Belle Chasse using private investment.

The current bridge in Belle Chasse was built in 1968, and the tunnel opened in 1956. The average daily traffic is approximately 35,000 and this route serves as the primary access point to the residents, businesses, and industries of Plaquemines Parish. The new structure will benefit the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station while providing more efficient commute times in daily activities and hurricane evacuations for motorists.

Call 511 or visit www.511la.org for additional information. Out-of-state travelers may call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511). Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website at www.dotd.la.gov, by selecting MYDOTD, or by visiting the DOTD Facebook and Twitter pages.