$9.2B project prompts change in La. 1/415 connector route

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The original route proposed for the LA Highway 1/415 Connector.

Photo provided by WBR Parish Government

PORT ALLEN, La. (The West Side Journal) – The LA Highway 1/ 415 Connector route plans have taken a detour after the announcement in November of a renewable fuel complex on the west bank of the Mississippi River near Port Allen.

The $9.2 billion Grön Fuels complex at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge will use a portion of land near Intracoastal Waterway that was originally pegged for the connector route from La. 415 to La. 1.

“It’s where the original path was supposed to go, but that’s where the facility is going to go, so the state is going to have to redesign that piece of the puzzle,” said state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen. He serves as head of the Senate Transportation Committee.

The redesign should be complete by summer, he said.

Ward said he does not expect further delays.

“It’s moving right along, and the money is secured, so it’s not going anywhere,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll start work soon.”

The current fiscal year marks the first payment the state Department of Transportation and Development has received for the project, Ward said.

At the same time, talks continue on the long-discussed plans for a new Mississippi River Bridge. A long road looms before it gains funding, but Ward remains optimistic that the plans will eventually fall into place.

The funding is only part of the issue.

Environmental studies and other preliminary work must be completed before the project gets the green light, Ward said.

“What they’re doing right now is extremely important,” he said. “If Warren Buffett came down here and wrote us a $1 billion check until engineering work is done, we still wouldn’t be able to start.

“There’s work being done, and in the meantime, we will figure how to fund the construction,” Ward said.

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The West Side Journal, located in Port Allen, Louisiana serves as the official journal of West Baton Rouge Parish. The newspaper’s roots run deep in the West Baton Rouge community, as the earliest dates of publication reach back to the mid-1800s.

The current editor is Breanna Smith, an alumna of Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication and native of Baton Rouge. Contributing writers to the Journal are members of the West Side community.

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