DAILY ADVERTISER – Gov. John Bel Edwards stopped Monday in Broussard to celebrate completion of the Albertson Parkway widening project, two years after the improvements initially were scheduled for completion.
The $63.7 million project widens U.S. Highway 90 from four lanes to six from Albertson Parkway to north of Ambassador Caffery Parkway, as part of the future I-49 South corridor. Edwards, joined by Department of Development and Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, said the widening was an essential part of the state’s effort to improve its infrastructure.
“This completion of this project marks a crucial step in the plans to transform U.S. 90 into the I-49 South corridor,” Edwards said, adding it’s “only a small piece of a much larger vision.”
The state broke ground in 2014 on the Albertson Parkway widening project, which at the time was estimated to take three years to complete.
Edwards said it’s “unfortunate” when these delays occur, as the goal is to provide these infrastructure upgrades as swiftly as possible. He said the state tries to make its contracts with the contractors and construction crews as tight as possible to ensure the projects are completed in a timely manner.
Wilson said rain was one of the primary causes of delays, but the state also had to reevaluate plans due to some traffic and transportation concerns. Once DOTD evaluates the impact of these issues, which would not be held against the contractor, it could see about adding fines for the delays.
The project was part of the Geaux South program, which is a $2 billion construction initiative that will turn the U.S. Highway 90 corridor into I-49 South.
In June, Edwards signed House Bill 578 to use $700 million from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement, which is supposed to reimburse the state for expenses it incurred because of the spill, for infrastructure projects across the state.
State Sen. Page Cortez, a Lafayette Republican and the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said there are a lot of great projects going on in the “hidden jewel” of Acadiana, though he said the state needs to find a consistent funding source to sustain the infrastructure projects.
Wilson, who has served as a longtime veteran of DOTD before being appointed secretary in 2016, said 14 years ago the state had very little momentum or funding for infrastructure. He said the project was “a piece of the puzzle, but a critical piece.”
The next project is to connect the frontage roads, he said.
“We’re making great strides in Acadiana,” Wilson said. “We’re going as fast as we can with the resources we have.”
Read the full story on the Daily Advertiser’s website here.