LA 1 Coalition seeking money for road to Golden Meadow
Progress on the elevated highway to Port Fourchon continues as the LA 1 Coalition continues to look for money for the next phase.
Construction is underway to widen the curve on the Leeville Bridge and add a short extension for the planned elevated highway to Golden Meadow, LA 1 Coalition Executive Director Henri Boulet told the Lafourche Parish Council last week.
“We’re working very hard on closing the gap,” he said.
The next phase, elevating 8.3 miles of roadway to Golden Meadow, is expected to cost $340 million.
A study by LSU economist Loren Scott found that for each hour the highway leading into the port is closed, the nation sees a $22 million loss. The port services over 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater oil production, according to the Greater Lafourche Port Commission.
During Hurricane Isaac, the road was closed for 68 hours, but the port could have opened after eight hours, Boulet said.
“If we get the highway complete, we’ll able to get down to Fourchon right after a storm makes landfall. That way the port can do what it does so well,” he said.
La. 1 is the only road to Port Fourchon and serves as an economic driver to the region.
Boulet said the port now services all deepwater discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Anything over 1,000 feet of drilling is now being serviced by Fourchon,” he said.
The port annually brings in $2.6 billion in business and $652 million in household earnings for the Terrebonne and Lafourche region, the study by Scott found.
One of every 13 jobs in the two parishes is connected to the port, Boulet said, generating $12.8 million in sales tax collections from salaries alone.
If the road is closed for 21 days, the study estimates $11.2 billion in lost sales and $3.1 million in lost household earnings, he said.
Financing for the next phase still remains uncertain, however.
Boulet said the coalition is working with state, local and federal entities to secure the $340 million, and other money needed to improve the road to Grand Isle.
Federal loans or appropriations could be possible with the assistance of U.S. Reps. Garret Graves and Steve Scalise, who represent Terrebonne and Lafourche and who have been heavily involved in the project, Boulet said.
State revenue sharing from oil leases and federal GOMESA money have also been set aside for the project, he said.
Most of the final extension will be built using an add-on construction method with temporary piles, negating the need for a costly construction canal that would result in an even larger amount of wetland mitigation, Boulet said.
The project already includes about 100 acres of wetland mitigation, most of which has already been completed in the Leeville area.
The Greater Lafourche Port Commission paid for the majority of that work, Boulet said.
Lafourche Parish’s in-kind contribution of helping to maintain the lights along the road has also helped move the project forward, he said.