(The Center Square) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an $86.6 million low-interest loan to the Louisiana State Bond Commission to help fund road work in Lafayette Parish.
The DOT’s Build America Bureau provided the bond commission a loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act for a Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development project near Broussard.
The $86.6 million in financing will go to fund the South Ambassador Caffery/U.S. Highway 90 Interchange on Interstate 49, the last of four transportation projects approved by the Build America Bureau in August 2021. The project, funded through a British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon settlement, is about 2.4 miles in length and includes new two-lane frontage roads and construction of interchanges at U.S. 90 and Ambassador Caffery Boulevard and U.S. 90 and Albertson Parkway, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation statement.
“This interchange project will enhance safety, improve evacuations during life-threatening weather events and is part of an overall improvement plan that supports job creation for the region,” Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg said.
“The Louisiana leaders developed a package of projects that the Bureau was able to review and approve as a bundle, speeding up the process for each individual loan,” said Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “Three of the four projects qualified for reduced interest rates, half the treasury rate, through our Rural Projects Initiative.”
Other projects that received TIFIA funding as part of the $159.8 million package include $26.9 million through the Rural Projects Initiative for Louisiana Highway 36 to Louisiana Highway 435 project in St. Tammany Parish and $36.4 million for two projects: a Union Pacific Railroad overpass project in Morehouse Parish and segment three for a Louisiana Highway 435 to Louisiana Highway 40 project in St. Tammany Parish.
The TIFIA financing comes through the transportation department’s Build America Bureau, established during the Obama administration, to help states and other project sponsors to complete infrastructure projects by offering low-interest, long-term loans and other assistance. The infrastructure law approved by Congress last November expands the program’s project eligibility and extends maturity of the loans.
The Build America Bureau has distributed more than $38.4 billion in TIFIA financing to date.
Trottenberg was in New Orleans on Sunday to tour area road projects and highlight $134 million in from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration that will be coming to Louisiana over the next five years to address climate change.
The money comes through the infrastructure law through a $7.3 billion PROTECT program that will send $25 million to the state in the next fiscal year. The program also provides competitive grants Louisiana transportation officials plan to help local communities take advantage of.
The money is expected to go toward a variety of projects to raise bridges and roads to minimize the impact of hurricanes and heavy rainfall, Trottenberg said during a press conference, according to NOLA.com.
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said the funding will help the department work through a list of roads in need of elevating.
“Instead of 3 miles, we’ll be able to do 5 to 7 miles per year,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, who co-authored the infrastructure law, praised the funding in a prepared statement on Monday.
“We know the devastation hurricanes and coastal erosion can cause to our infrastructure,” he said. “I worked on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law specifically to ensure Louisiana has these resources to strengthen our roads and bridges and keep our communities safe and resilient.”