State agencies support further study for intermodal airport project
Monday, April 30, 2007 at 12:00:00 AM

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Michael J. Olivier and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Johnny B. Bradberry today announced support for Phase II of a comprehensive study to determine the feasibility and economic potential of an intermodal airport between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

            SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian firm operating under the auspices of the Canadian government, is conducting the study. Phase I, which is being completed, shows there is private sector interest in the project. Phase II would help determine the economic potential of the facility, often referred to as the Louisiana Transportation Center (LTC).

            “The initial findings indicate that the Louisiana Transportation Center concept has merit,” Olivier said. “At the same time, it is important that the state undertake all due diligence activities to make sure taxpayer dollars are invested in a facility that will spur economic development in a timely manner.”

            The LTC concept has been promoted as a 25,000-acre manufacturing and intermodal transportation center largely financed with private capital, but with some public investment. The state’s policy has been that business and private investment should be lined up prior to the investment of any public funds.

            “DOTD is committed to pursuing projects that facilitate economic development. By signing off on this next phase, we are working toward rationalizing the use of public funds to stimulate economic growth,” said Secretary Bradberry.

At the conclusion of the second phase of the market analysis, the state expects that SNC-Lavalin will propose a public-private partnership that specifies the level of private investment, the required public investment and sufficient information for the state to determine the net economic benefit to Louisiana (i.e. employment, increased business activity, etc.).

In addition to SNC-Lavalin’s involvement in Phase II, the state will retain an independent consultant to assist in quantifying the net economic benefit to Louisiana. While some relocation of business activity within the state would be expected at the proposed LTC, only new business to Louisiana will be counted as a benefit in the analysis.

            If the proposed public-private partnership meets the state’s economic development criteria, only then will any public investment in the LTC be considered. If the full level of required public investment cannot be justified based on the state’s return-on-investment criteria, then local governments and local private interests will have the option to close the financial gap.

            “Louisiana will review and give serious consideration to any public-private partnership proposal brought forward,” Olivier said. “But the private sector must come forward with investments before the state will consider the investment of taxpayer dollars.”

            In addition to Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the Louisiana Division of Administration is part of the team of state agencies assisting in the due diligence process for the project.