DOTD receives public-private partnership proposal for Belle Chasse bridge and tunnel replacement
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 12:48:21 PM
Baton Rouge - Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. announced the Department received one of three public-private partnership (P3) proposals for the Belle Chasse bridge and tunnel replacement project in Plaquemines Parish. The proposal will be extensively reviewed for its ability to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the project. Before a proposal can be accepted, DOTD will host two meetings with the Joint Transportation Committee detailing the specifics of the proposal, one of which will be in the community where the proposed project is to be built.

“My administration is committed to investing in the infrastructure that Louisiana’s citizens deserve,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The P3 ensures that we will deliver this much-needed new Belle Chasse Bridge for our state’s commuters and visitors. It’s also an example of our resilience and determination to succeed in the face of immense financial challenges.”

The P3 will be combined with funds from the $45 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant that DOTD received in June 2018, as well as $26.2 million in federal funds allocated to DOTD, $12 million in federal funds allocated to the Regional Planning Commission, and up to $12 million in GARVEE Bond proceeds. With this financing, DOTD is committed to building a fixed, four-lane bridge to replace the tunnel and moveable bridge on LA 23 in Belle Chasse using private investment. “I want to applaud Secretary Chao and the U.S. Department of Transportation for being an advocate for leveraging private investment for infrastructure,” said Secretary Wilson.

“This P3 is the first for DOTD, and we’re grateful for all the private sector interest received using this innovative funding mechanism,” continued Wilson. “Although one proposal was received, it is not uncommon to have a single proposal in P3 procurements, and we remain committed to doing what is in the state’s best interest. There are successful P3s that resulted from a single proposal submission. DOTD has awarded a design-build project and many engineering and design-bid-build projects in which there was only a single bid. Success on this project will go a long way toward delivering other mega projects using the public-private-partnership model.”

If accepted, the P3 proposer will maintain the new bridge through the period of its contract with DOTD and will recoup its investment through tolls paid by motorists using the new bridge. The Department estimates a decision to accept or reject the proposal could be made by May 1, 2019. Specifics related to the design and construction of the bridge will be released after the proposal has been reviewed and negotiations are finalized.

The current bridge in Belle Chasse was built in 1968, and the tunnel opened in 1956. The average daily traffic is approximately 35,000 and this route serves as the primary access point to the residents, businesses, and industries of Plaquemines Parish. The new structure will benefit the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station while providing more efficient commute times in daily activities and hurricane evacuations for motorists.