The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD) propose to improve system linkage by improving connectivity of Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) from Lapalco Boulevard/Behrman Highway (LA 428) to Woodland Highway (LA 406); meet the challenges of transportation demand as identified in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, New Orleans Urbanized Area; while complimenting modal interrelationships between traffic on LA 23 and maritime access in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Project Update: December 3, 2018

WHAT’S NEW:

The draft EA document is available/linked on the
Project Information Page

 

PUBLIC HEARING

LA 23: Belle Chasse Bridge & Tunnel (HBI)

Environmental Assessment

Jefferson/Plaquemines Parishes, LA

State Project No. H.004791

Federal Aid Project No. H.004791/DE-3806(500)

RPC Contract No. BCTunnel

 

Date/Time: Wednesday, November 28, 2018

5:00 to 8:00 pm

Location: Belle Chasse Auditorium

8398 LA Highway 23, Belle Chasse, LA

 

A total of 87 people signed in as attending the November 28th Public Hearing.  The Hearing agenda, handout and PowerPoint presentation can be found under the Project Information tab of this website.  Once the comment period closes, DOTD, RPC and the consultant team will respond to those comments.  Questions, comments and responses will then be uploaded to the website as well.

 

Copies of the draft environmental assessment, posted at the following locations to allow for public view, will remain available through the close of comments December 10, 2018 following the Public Hearing during normal hours and days of operation:

 

Belle Chasse Branch, Plaquemines Parish Library

8442 LA Hwy 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037

Jane O’Brien Chatelain Jefferson Parish Westbank Regional Library 2751 Manhattan Blvd

Harvey, LA 70058

New Orleans RPC 10 Veterans Memorial Blvd

New Orleans, LA 70124

LADOTD District 02, 1440 US Highway 90

Bridge City, LA 70094

 

Comments from the public or stakeholder agencies on potential environmental effects associated with the proposed project alternatives are welcome. All written statements and/or comments may be submitted either at the Hearing or within 10 calendar days following the Hearing (December 10, 2018):

 

Regional Planning Commission

10 Veterans Memorial Boulevard

New Orleans, LA 70124

Attn: Jason Sappington, AICP, Deputy Director

 

Louisiana Awarded $45 million in Infrastructure Funding

Tuesday, June 05, 2018 at 4:48:50 PM

BATON ROUGE - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards received notice of an advance grant announcement that the U.S.

Department of Transportation approved Louisiana's application for a $45 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America,

or INFRA, grant. The funds are committed to building a fixed, four-lane bridge to replace the tunnel and moveable

bridge on La. 23 in Belle Chasse.

The INFRA grant is a much-needed portion of the financial package needed to complete this project. Additional funding

will come in the form of $26.2 million in federal funds allocated to the Louisiana DOTD and $12 million in federal funds

allocated to the Regional Planning Commission.

The remaining funding needed for the project will come through a Public Private Partnership, wherein a private

company will provide the balance of money needed to construct the project and will recoup their investment through

tolls paid by motorists using the new bridge. The private partner will maintain the new bridge through the period of

their contract with DOTD.

“This INFRA grant is another demonstration of the innovative tools the state must utilize to improve its crumbling

infrastructure,” said Gov. Edwards. “We certainly appreciate the Trump administration’s attention to the state’s needs

and will continue to work closely with the federal government to address our needs. The Governor’s Task Force on

Infrastructure investment made a proposal in the 2017 legislative session that would have funded this project, but the

House of Representatives did not vote on this measure. While tolling is not my first choice to addressing our

infrastructure woes, it is certainly a tool at our disposal that we should consider. My administration’s position embraces

a philosophy of establishing the lowest possible toll for the shortest possible time frame such that the private sector

can help meet our infrastructure needs while creating jobs.”

“The Belle Chase Bridge and Tunnel is an important access point to Plaquemines Parish for residents and those

traveling to and from the Naval Air Station or other businesses located along Highway 23,” said U.S. Senator Bill

Cassidy. “In addition, marine traffic navigating the Intracoastal Waterway must account for the bridge. Replacing both

the bridge and tunnel is long overdue, so this grant is great news.”

"Today's announcement is a testament to Governor Edwards and Secretary Wilson's commitment to finding innovative

ways to move Louisiana's infrastructure forward. It is my hope that this will spark legislative and public support for

sustainable funding to move more projects forward," said Senator Troy Carter who district is comprised of Plaquemines

Parish.

“This project is very important to our region, and I am happy to have worked with Gov. Edwards and the Louisiana

Department of Transportation to make it possible. This has been a long time coming, but with this administration’s

commitment, we can continue to work towards making this a reality.” said Rep. Chris Leopold.

The grant award supports the state’s first Public Private Partnership arrangement and is intended to close the funding

gap for the Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement in Plaquemine Parish.

“I’m pleased with the response we have received as we move forward with our Public Private Partnership,” said DOTD

Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “This project is critical is as critical as the capacity we are building using this

procurement method. To have all the funding pieces falling in place is a testament to Gov. Edwards, the Legislature,

Plaquemines Parish, DOTD employees and others who know the importance of upgrading our aging infrastructure.”

The project and the federal funding request received letters of support from Governor John Bel Edwards, members of

the Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation, both the Senate and House Transportation Committee Chairmen and Vice

Chairmen, as well as both Senate President John Alario and Speaker of the House Taylor F. Barras. Most importantly,

there are several local business and industry leaders that have supported the concept as a solution to a decades old

problem.

On April 5, DOTD reported that it received 20 letters of interest for the Public Private Partnership. The notice of intent

was published in February. The state recently received 6 statements of qualification, from which a short list of

proposers will be invited to submit a proposal.

The moveable bridge the INFRA grant will help replace was built in 1967 and the tunnel opened in 1955. The average

daily traffic is 33,000. This route serves as the primary access point to the residents, businesses, and industries of

Plaquemines Parish. The anticipated new structure will benefit the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station while providing more

efficient commute times in daily activities and in hurricane evacuations for motorists.

 



Project Purpose

Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) is a principal arterial which serves as the primary access point between Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. Improving transportation system linkage by improving connectivity of Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) from Lapalco Boulevard to Woodland Highway could benefit traffic operations in this area. Improvements to LA 23 remain a Megaproject Priority A in the 2015 Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update and Tier III implementation project (FY 2029-2044) in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan adopted by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission 1 & 2.    Along the corridor, LA 23 crosses the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway via movable bridge (Judge Perez Bridge) and tunnel. The GIWW, a 1,300 mile inland commercial waterway, connects established maritime-dependent businesses in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes with a broad local, regional, national and international clientele via the numerous commercial port facilities oriented to the waterway as well as along the Mississippi River. The proposed action for this project must maintain or improve modal interrelationships between vehicular traffic on LA 23 and maritime traffic in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The EA will carefully examine the impacts of building a new bridge (and new roads to connect to the bridge) on nearby buildings, businesses, homes and the natural environment. For more information about Environmental Assessments, click here.

Project Need

Improving connectivity in the Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) corridor addresses current conditions and operational constraints created by aging infrastructure. Constructed in 1956, the Belle Chasse Tunnel closes whenever maintenance activities warrant. During these periods, the Judge Perez Bridge, constructed in 1968, operates with two-way traffic, effectively reducing the capacity for traffic at this location by half. The Bridge also must open its center span to accommodate maritime traffic needs on the GIWW, stopping the flow of northbound traffic and creating additional operational delays on the Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) corridor. Solutions in place to maintain peak-period traffic operations also affect maritime operations on the GIWW.

Because of the importance of this transportation link, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (NORPC) has included the Belle Chasse Tunnel and Judge Perez Bridge replacement as part of the adopted Long range regional transportation plan. DOTD has identified the project as a Priority A Megaproject in the financially constrained State Transportation Plan.

 

Project Leadership

The EA process is being led by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (NORPC) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

The EA is being developed by Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. (BKI), with assistance from HNTB, Trigon Associates, LLC and Earth Search, Inc.

2015 Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update, competed in December 2015, as downloaded from http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LaDOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Transportation_Plan/Pages/default.aspx.

 

2 Tier 3 project, FY 15-24, Metropolitan Transportation Plan, New Orleans Urbanized Area, Fiscal Year 2015-2014, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, adopted 01/31/2015.

 

 

Click here to e-mail your questions and comments.