AASHTO Journal, 13 December 2013
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development last week announced it had found a few ways to save a lot of money—specifically $3.7 billion—in constructing its I-49 South project.
The project will upgrade 160 miles of U.S. 90 from Lafayette to New Orleans into an “interstate-quality roadway enhancing travel between the two cities,” extending I-49 in the state. DOTD says the I-49 South project will improve the daily commute for drivers by cutting down on their travel time and providing for greater safety (due to the better traffic flow). In order to move forward with the project, DOTD conducted a study that analyzed the corridor in the hopes of finding ways to make the project more efficient in terms of cost.
DOTD’s study resulted in two major changes that would save $3.7 billion through the I-49 South project. The first change is to transform an 11-mile section of U.S. 90 in St. Mary Parish to interstate standards, cutting the cost from $460 million to $250 million for that segment. Secondly, and most significantly, DOTD found that by altering the design of the 36-mile section in Lafourche, St. Charles, and Jefferson parishes, it could reduce the estimated cost from $4.8 billion to $1.3 billion.
“The results of this study offer revised plans that not only significantly reduce the total cost of the corridor, but also how the design concept can be implemented in a phased approach,” said DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas in a statement. “This phased implementation approach is a great deal for taxpayers and provides immediate benefits to the traveling public when it is constructed.”
Currently, DOTD has completed or is now working on more than 100 miles of the 160-mile project, which began as a $6.5 billion project but now has the possibility to be completed at roughly $3 billion.