Leeville, LA – The LA 1 Coalition celebrated the start of construction today for Phase II of the LA 1 Improvement Project, an 8.3-mile elevated highway from Leeville to Golden Meadow that will connect critical energy infrastructure to the nation.
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, Governor John Bel Edwards, LA DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, Coalition leaders, stakeholders, state and local elected officials and contributors to the project participated in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Leeville Public Boat Launch. The ceremony marked the final step in a project over 25 years in the making.
“This project is a piece of a much grander vision for Louisiana, and it prides me to say that we have continued to invest in infrastructure and development,” said Governor Edwards. “This corridor will provide relief for regional transportation needs, creating a resilient structure all while stimulating economic growth. This project was a priority of this administration because of the needs to the economy of the state and the nation. I’m proud of Sec. Wilson and all the people who worked to secure the nation’s largest federal INFRA grant.”
“Who knew that we would need over $800 million to build this highway? None of us knew! To get creative, I proposed I ask industry to be in a civic-based, multi-million-dollar matching funds commitment,” said Henri Boulet, Executive Director of the LA 1 Coalition. “This became the greatest professional challenge of my fundraising career. Twenty companies did something they had never done before – help a community leverage state and federal dollars to build state-owned infrastructure. This tells me that there is still a strong civic consciousness across American board rooms.”
In 2020, LA DOTD was awarded a $135 million grant to fund the project, which aims to elevate LA 1 Highway in southern Lafourche Parish – the only roadway supporting Port Fourchon, which services over 16 percent of America’s domestic crude oil production, 4 percent of natural gas production and supports 20 percent of the nation’s seafood production, as well as access to tourism destination Grand Isle. The elevated highway will secure safe, long-term access to our nation’s energy supply, ecotourism, abundant seafood production, and vital coastal restoration projects.
This project also has a historical level of community buy-in, including a $25 million match commitment from Port Fourchon, multi-million dollars pledged collectively from 20 private industry partners, and matching $1.2 million dollar pledges from both Lafourche Parish Government and the LA 1 Coalition. Landowners also contributed permanent servitudes to help minimize project costs.
According to the LA 1 INFRA Grant Development Team: each day LA 1 is closed, the U.S. loses $46 million in oil and gas production and $528 million in total GDP.
“LA 1 is not only a win for Louisiana but for the nation as well,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “Infrastructure creates jobs and ignites economic development. More than 1,300 trucks and heavy vehicles travel the LA 1 southern corridor daily to support port activity and energy production. Elevating LA 1 solves the challenges presented when port activity comes to a halt because of flooding on the existing at-grade highway. We are advancing transportation to make Louisiana a better place to live, work, and visit. This project is an example of how to move large projects forward. I applaud the DOTD staff who worked tirelessly to secure the INFRA grant and to the elected officials and private industry who made this project delivery possible.”
“Elevating LA 1 has long been a top priority of mine, and today’s monumental groundbreaking is a significant step forward for our region’s safety and the nation’s energy security,” said Congressman Steve Scalise. “I’m proud to have worked with local and state leaders to get to this moment after I worked with Transportation Secretary Chao to secure the largest INFRA grant in the country in 2020. Elevating LA 1 ensures our state will continue to play an essential role in American energy dominance for decades to come.”
“Officially known as the ‘Billy Tauzin Energy Corridor’, LA 1 is the trunk and root of Louisiana’s important history, culture and economy– Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, energy production, ship building, seafood, Sportsman’s Paradise, Cajun Country, tourism, jobs and more,” said Congressman Garret Graves. “As we saw during Hurricane Ida, every day this artery is inoperable, America’s economy takes a hit, our economy takes a hit, our communities can’t evacuate, and our national energy system is paralyzed. The reality is that LA 1 resiliency means stronger and safer communities, and a more reliable energy economy. Without the decades of hard work and persistence of Billy Tauzin, the LA 1 Coalition, the Louisiana Legislature, and community and business leaders in the Coastal Parishes, this highway would be breaking waves, but instead today we’re breaking ground. Nearly seven years ago, we wrote the federal law that resulted in prioritized federal funds for nationally significant energy corridors like LA 1. That long-term strategy directly resulted in our ability to partner with Rep. Scalise to bring home the largest transportation grant awarded in 2020 for this project. This is a perfect example of a local and real infrastructure solution that addresses our national priorities. South Louisiana is worth this investment and is worth protecting.”
The LA 1 Improvement Project is expected to be complete in July of 2027, weather permitting.