The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development said it is seeking a quick turnaround on design-build proposals for two road projects in the New Orleans and Shreveport areas, and plans to pay for them by tapping bonds to be repaid out of the state's future allocations of federal highway dollars.
"There has been an outcry from the public for these projects and we are employing innovative means to deliver," said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson.
"These projects, as well as others, would have been funded under the broadly supported gas tax proposal that the Legislature did not pass last year. We can no longer wait while we lose our competitive edge. We are forced to use GARVEE bonds, a tool used by 30 other states to pay for major improvements."
GARVEE stands for "grant anticipation revenue vehicle," a financing tool by which the bond debt is paid off using a state's scheduled annual disbursements from the Highway Trust Fund.
Wilson had announced in February that the administration would begin the process under state law to use $600 million in GARVEE debt for several projects including the two it is now soliciting for.
The department issued a formal "notice of intent" March 27 seek design-build firms, which would combine the traditionally separate functions in a single contract to accelerate the work, and said it wanted responses by April 18.
One project is to improve the Loyola Drive interchange access from Interstate 10 to a new passenger terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which is scheduled to open next February. The department estimates the cost of that work in the range of $95 million to $125 million.
The Shreveport-area project at Bossier City will alter the I-20/I-220 interchange outside Barksdale Air Force Base and add a new four-lane state route into the base, including an elevated road section to span railroad tracks there. The agency put its cost at $80 million to $95 million.
The announcement said the agency faces a $13.9 billion backlog of needed mobility projects, and "will continue to pursue visionary means of funding and contracting to demonstrate what can be accomplished through innovation and working with our federal partners. This includes competing for discretionary funding and creating an office of innovative procurement to facilitate this more focused approach on innovation and public private partnership practices."
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