Feb 01 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced a plan that would generate millions of dollars for stalled road and bridge projects across Louisiana without levying tolls or tax increases. Most significantly, the plan would finally give the state the funding needed to finish the Comite River Diversion Canal in order to protect Louisiana families from further devastating flooding.
Working with the Louisiana Department of Treasury, Sen. Kennedy has developed a plan that calls for leveraging noncash securities (stocks, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds) held by the state’s Unclaimed Property Division to generate nearly $150 million in construction funding. The current upswing of the stock market makes it a ripe time to convert the noncash securities into cash. A similar alternative funding mechanism was used to finance work on Interstate-49 North and Interstate-49 South. The plan would capitalize on the securities without diminishing anyone’s Unclaimed Property.
Based on the current approved cost estimate, $150 million is needed to complete the Comite River Diversion Canal. Leveraging the noncash securities would free up money for the state’s portion of the total cost as well as for roads and bridges that are in deplorable condition.
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“We’re not taking away anyone’s Unclaimed Property. Your lost money will be there whether you wait two years or 20 years to claim it,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We would simply leverage this asset in order to help pay for projects across the state, including the Comite River Diversion Canal. Enough Louisiana families have lost their homes because the diversion canal project has been buried in mothballs and bureaucracy for decades. It’s past time to get this thing done so homeowners don’t have to worry every time there’s a downpour.”
“At the same time, I’m not trying to direct the Governor or the Treasurer on how to do his job. This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around, and I think it’s a good one,” said Sen. Kennedy. “If the Governor is willing to support this plan for Comite, then I and the delegation can work at the federal level to secure any remaining funds needed to finish this project once and for all. But we need to know that these funds will be used for Comite or another worthy infrastructure project. This is one-time, nonrecurring revenue, and it shouldn’t be used to fill a budget hole created by the state spending more than it takes in year after year.”
The Comite to Mississippi River Diversion Project would connect the Comite River with the Mississippi River through a set of canals in the northern region of East Baton Rouge Parish between Zachary and Baker. This project could mitigate flooding in Baton Rouge.
Below is a list of other projects that could be considered:
- Upgrades to MacArthur Drive would better connect I-49N and I-49S across Alexandria. This project has an estimated cost of $110 million and would close off many of the access points along MacArthur Drive to improve traffic flow.
- Port Fourchon
- The LA-1 Bridge connecting Golden Meadow with Fourchon is a $343 million project. This project would create a more reliable connection between Port Fourchon and the rest of Louisiana to transport commerce.
- The Ambassador Caffery to I-90 South Interchange improvement has a cost of approximately $105 million and would improve traffic flow in southeast Lafayette.
- Greater New Orleans
- Widening I-10 between William Blvd and Veterans Blvd could alleviate traffic in and out of the western New Orleans. This project would widen the number of interstate lanes to eight and has an expected cost of $150 million.
- The Jimmie Davis Bridge between Southeast Shreveport and Bossier City needs to be replaced. This project would provide a new bridge and cost around $60 million.