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Work Begins on Long-Awaited LA 3241 Road Project in St. Tammany Parish

Tue November 30, 2021 - Southeast Edition
Office of the Governor of Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and other local officials join together for the ceremonial “groundbreaking” of the new Louisiana Highway 3241.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and other local officials join together for the ceremonial “groundbreaking” of the new Louisiana Highway 3241.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials were on hand at a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 19 to kickoff construction on the LA 3241 highway corridor in St. Tammany Parish.

Joining the governor for the event was, among others, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson.

To be created as a three-phase project on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, LA 3241 will be a four-lane highway stretching from the intersection of LA 40/LA 41 in Bush, to Interstate 12 in the parish.

According to a statement from the governor's office, the first phase, constructed by Brown Industrial Construction, a heavy civil building firm in Baton Rouge, will cost nearly $46 million. Brown's crews will work on the initial stage of the road project between LA 40/LA 41 and LA 435.

Phase Two will come at a cost of $62.5 million and be built by James Construction Group, also based in Louisiana's capital city. That part of the project will be constructed between LA 36 and LA 435.

The third and last section of LA 3241 project is planned between LA 36 and I-12 and is anticipated to go to bid in 2023.

A Project Talked About for Decades

The LA 3241 effort is part of Louisiana's Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) Program, which began in 1989, when voters approved a four-cent increase to the gas tax to fund Act 16 of that year's legislature. The program was later accelerated through the sale of bonds.

Two of its major projects were the John James Audubon Bridge in Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes, and the wider, safer Huey P. Long Bridge near New Orleans.

The LA 3241 project is the 15th TIMED project to move forward.

"I am proud to see this project come to fruition," said Edwards. "Creating a brand-new highway is an example of what can be accomplished when we have the correct funding sources in place and when our leaders on all levels of government work together. This corridor will provide relief for regional transportation needs and stimulate economic growth in this region."

Wilson lamented the fact that it took so long to get the LA 3241 project going, due to a lack of funding, but was pleased it was under way.

"This new corridor will improve access between I-12 and the northeastern ‘toe' of Louisiana, as well as provide an additional hurricane evacuation route from the New Orleans and Northshore areas," he said. "Infrastructure creates jobs and ignites economic development."

In addition to the DOTD program funding, making use of the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Program, Wilson's department was able to access $50 million of the HB 578/Act 443 (2019) funds dedicated to the project earlier rather than later, thus reducing the impacts of inflation.

Since DOTD is utilizing a TIFIA low interest loan, the governor's office noted that the state can save approximately $50 million in typical inflation costs due to funding delays.

The transportation agency also is planning to use approximately $240 million of TIFIA credit assistance on the following projects: I-12 to Bush, I-49S, the Cameron Ferry, the State-Wide Bridge Program and LA 415.

"After decades of waiting, it is encouraging to see progress on a physical connection from Washington parish to St Tammany parish," said state Sen. Beth Mizell. "New economic and educational opportunities will be more accessible to all citizens. This step makes a long-awaited dream of the past a reality for the prosperity for all of our area."

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper, also in attendance at the groundbreaking, added, "I am thrilled to see this long-awaited project become a reality for all citizens in St. Tammany Parish. Once completed, LA 3241 will provide a major connection and economic growth for I-12 to Northeast St. Tammany Parish and all neighbors, businesses and communities in between."

DOTD noted that the first two phases of the highway project are projected to be complete in late 2023 or early 2024, weather permitting.

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