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Louisiana DOTD Signs Contract, Issues Notice to Proceed for Loyola Interchange Project

DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., left, and Randy Gilchrist of Gilchrist Construction sign a contract for the design build project for the Loyola Interchange in Kenner.
DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., left, and Randy Gilchrist of Gilchrist Construction sign a contract for the design build project for the Loyola Interchange in Kenner.
BATON ROUGE, LA — Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. announces another major milestone in the Loyola Interchange Project, which will create new entrance and exit ramps into the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Jefferson Parish.

The contract with Gilchrist Construction Company was signed and the notice to proceed issued, marking the official beginning of the project. Gilchrist Construction was identified as the successful proposer during a public bid opening and was of three contractors that submitted proposals for the $125.6-million project.

“Signing the design-build contract is a significant step in the process of building the project,” Wilson said. “This allows the contractor to begin design and construction services and starts the clock ticking on completion. This new interchange will be a major step for the New Orleans Airport and community, as millions of individuals utilize this area for their travel needs.”

This project will utilize a diverging diamond interchange to improve traffic flow at the intersection of Loyola Dr. and I-10, which would eliminate the need for a left turn signal at the interstate. Additionally, the project will reconfigure the proposed elevated on and off ramps from New Orleans to a single structure in the median of Airport Access Road south of Veterans Boulevard and provide aesthetic enhancements.

Utilizing the design-build method of project delivery will expedite the process by allowing the design and construction phases to take place simultaneously while employing innovations. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2020, with an estimated completion in late 2022.

This is one of four major projects that have been planned for years, but never had a real state commitment to move forward as they had no funding identified or having achieved environmental clearance. The process to begin this project began in 2018 when the governor unveiled a plan that is culminating for the project with this contract signing.

However, the administration is delivering decades old priority projects, specifically the Loyola interchange in Kenner, the Barksdale Air Force Base-I-220 entrance in Bossier City, the widening of I-10 in Baton Rouge and the Belle Chasse bridge and tunnel replacement simultaneously. For the first time ever, the administration is using GARVEE bonds coupled with procurement. GARVEE bonds are special bonds that will be repaid over 12 years using federal funds allocated to Louisiana.

The interim improvements between Veteran’s and I-10 were also accelerated and completed in advance of the airport’s opening. Jefferson Parish, the City of New Orleans, LANOIA, the City of Kenner and the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission have all made funding commitments, and public support has been issued by local economic development groups in the region. Additional public meetings will be held while the project is moving forward.
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