14 Apr 2021
Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary, Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., joined local, state and project partners to virtually break ground on the brand new Belle Chasse Bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Plaquemines Parish.
The $169 million Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement Project consists of constructing the new, fixed-span bridge and demolition of the existing bridge and tunnel. The proposed bridge will include four, 12’ travel lanes, 4’ and 8’ shoulders and dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
The project is currently in the design and construction phase, with completion estimated in 2025. The new bridge is expected to be fully open in early 2024, but demolition of the current system will take an additional year.
“Today is a good day for the neighbors and businesses in Plaquemines Parish and Southeast Louisiana,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “LA 23 through the current bridge and tunnel is a vital economic corridor and thoroughfare for most of our neighbors in Plaquemines Parish. Making this project a reality was not an easy task, and we are grateful for our partnerships with local, state, federal and project leaders, as well as our neighbors.”
Drivers and businesses in Plaquemines Parish are in need of more reliable infrastructure over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The current bridge and tunnel are more than 50 years old and near the end of their designed life span. The project is overdue because of frequent, costly repairs and maintenance, which inconvenience the 33,000 drivers who use the current infrastructure. The existing bridge opens and closes more than 10 times daily, and stays open for seven minutes at a time, hindering traffic.
DOTD was able to secure a $45 million INFRA grant from the U.S. DOT, $26.2 million from the National Highway Performance Program, $12 million from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and $12 million from GARVEE bonds. While those efforts were remarkable, they were not adequate to build the new, necessary bridge.
“We are elated to bring reliable, efficient infrastructure to the people of Belle Chasse and Plaquemines Parish,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “Thousands of Louisianans are inconvenienced by our current system and these improvements will enhance their quality of life. I am extremely proud of our team and our partners, who utilized creative, innovative funding sources to make this happen, and provide better infrastructure for our neighbors.”
In need of innovative funding, DOTD used the first public-private partnership (P3) in Louisiana history, a collaboration between DOTD and Plenary Infrastructure Belle Chasse, to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project.
For more information, please visit: https://bellechassebridge.com/
To view the virtual groundbreaking, please click HERE.
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