BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A Senate committee has approved a bill that would divert money currently earmarked for state savings accounts to construct a new LA 415 to LA 1 connector. Lawmakers also added I-49 S from Lafayette to Gretna to the list of projects the money would fund.
House lawmakers previously approved the bill 97 to 4.
The project would allow drivers to bypass the oft-clogged Intracoastal Bridge and cross the river on either I-10 or Highway 190.
“The infrastructure needs are there and they’re dire at this point,” said Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma. His bill would divert money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement to pay for the connector and a project that would elevate LA 1 to provide ships better access to Port Fourchon.
That money, around $50 million each year, is currently going to the rainy day fund and a healthcare savings fund.
“We should be saving money,” Magee said. “But when your house starts falling and you need to fix your roof, you have to fix your roof before you can save your money.”
Magee said he’s cautiously optimistic the Senate will embrace the plan in the same way the House did. Governor John Bel Edwards has already signed off on the idea.
“We’re being as innovative as we know how to be to deliver infrastructure projects to Louisiana,” Edwards said. “If the legislature chooses now to say, ‘The more pressing needs are certain infrastructure projects that we’re not going to execute absent some funding mechanism or some revenue stream,’ then I think that’s legitimate.”