BATON ROUGE – On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., joined local, state and federal leaders to celebrate the beginning of construction on the highly anticipated widening and overlay of Interstate 12 in St. Tammany Parish.
The ceremony was held at Church of the King, which is located at the beginning of the project.
Phase one, which began construction in early May, will widen I-12 from LA 59 to U.S. 190.
Once completed, phase one will widen 3.023 miles of pavement surface from U.S. 190 to LA 59 into the median, overlaying the existing lanes with asphalt, and installing concrete median protection. The project also includes widening the bridges over U.S. 190, the Ponchatolawa Creek and the Tammany Trace bike path.
Phase two, which will widen I-12 from U.S. 190 to LA 21, is expected to begin construction in the coming weeks.
“Louisiana has taken another step forward today,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “This project is long overdue, but it shows what can be accomplished when we work together to improve infrastructure and the safety of our drivers. Investing in our highways, interstates and other infrastructure has been a top prioriy for my administration, and I am elated to move forward with this project in Southeast Louisiana.”
“Widening I-12 in St. Tammany Parish has been a high priority of mine, and in 2018 I worked closely with the Trump Administration to secure a $25 million BUILD Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help complete this vital project,” said Congressman Steve Scalise. “Today’s I-12 groundbreaking is great news for the safety of St. Tammany Parish residents and the thousands of people who frequently travel this interstate. Widening this stretch of I-12 will not only improve safety and significantly reduce traffic, this infrastructure investment will also boost economic growth throughout Southeast Louisiana. I’m excited to participate in this groundbreaking ceremony today, and I will continue fighting for necessary funding to support the infrastructure improvements that are so critical to our state and nation.”
James Construction Group, LLC is the contractor for phase one. The project, which costs more than $54 million, is expected to be completed within two and a half years.
JB James Construction, LLC will conduct the construction for phase two, with work expected to cost $59.1 million. Construction is expected to take around two years to complete.
“Today is a good day for Southeast Louisiana,” said Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D. “Interstate 12 in St. Tammany Parish is a critical economic corridor as well as a main vehicular artery for thousands of Louisianans. With this step forward, we proved that safe and efficient travel remains at the forefront at DOTD. Once completed, I-12 will provide more efficient commutes, reduce congestion and push the crucial economic corridor forward.”
Most of the funding for phase one, $43.4 million, comes from federal redistribution funds, which is money left over from other federally sourced projects across the country. St. Tammany Parish provided $8 million and the remaining $2.8 million has been sourced through the state.
Funding for phase two is being sourced through a $25 million federal BUILD grant, obtained by St. Tammany Parish, as well as a $7.2 million commitment from the parish. The remaining funds are being paid by the state.
On average, more than 95,000 drivers use that stretch of I-12 daily, but estimates show that number could grow exponentially in the coming years. However, the need for expansion is present now. DOTD believes the expansion of I-12 will save drivers time and improve safety.
“Watching the work on this pivotal infrastructure investment unfold is exciting for St. Tammany. The impacts this project will have on the safety of our motorists and the efficiency of our travel time, upon completion, will be positive and significant,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “I want to acknowledge the efforts of my predecessor, the late Pat Brister, who worked closely with our legislators and partner agencies at the Federal and State levels to secure funding and ensure the expeditious start of this project. We thank everyone involved in this collaboration. For the benefit and safety of our citizens, I will work throughout my tenure to ensure that necessary improvements continue on every stretch of I-12 in need within St. Tammany.”
“Solving this much-needed traffic congestion on the I-12 corridor has been a top priority for many years across multiple administrations. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the late Parish President Pat Brister for her diligence and dedication to ensuring this vital infrastructure investment became a reality. This project is a result of participation from our federal, state and local partners”, said Senator Patrick McMath. “Reducing traffic congestion on this corridor is critical to the safety of its motorists as well as the economic impacts to our local community.”
“I am proud to see this much-needed, long-awaited project become a reality,” said Representative Mark Wright. “This expansion will not only reduce traffic congestion, but will also be safer for our citizens and the thousands who take this corridor each day. I applaud DOTD and the entire team who have worked to bring this project to fruition and to our federal partners for their diligence in securing the significant funding needed.”
Two lanes in each direction will remain open to traffic during construction of phase 1. Any lane closures limiting traffic to less than two open lanes would occur at night and would not be continuous throughout the project corridor.
Phase three includes I-12 from LA 21 to LA 1077. Phase three does not have an anticipated letting date as a funding source has not been identified yet.