- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

LEEVILLE, La. (AP) - Louisiana Highway One, which passes through the marshes of south Lafourche, is the only route to Port Fourchon.

The Daily Comet reports (https://bit.ly/1jk2XcX) sales from unclaimed property bonds could help pay for the continued elevation of the highway in south Lafourche.

A representative from State Treasurer John Kennedy’s office presented the idea at the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation meeting last week in Port Fourchon, arguing any extra money from coastal projects completed with federal Restore Act dollars from BP oil spill fines should not be used to pay for the transportation project.

“La. 1 is hugely important,” Kennedy said in a phone interview. “I don’t think we ought to fund it out of our coastal restoration money, not because it’s not an important project ? it is ? but because once you start doing that, there will be a lot of other proponents of other projects, other road projects, that aren’t as important as the continued elevation of La. 1.”

An alternative funding source could be selling unclaimed property bonds, where excess annual collections from the unclaimed property program are used to pay the debt service on the bonds.

The system is more a cash management tool than anything else, and no one would lose their unclaimed property in the process, Kennedy said.

The funding mechanism raised about $200 million for Interstate 49 North and South, and Kennedy said he would like to meet with other leaders to discuss its application to La. 1.

“I do think it’s an idea that’s worth exploring,” he said. “The new governor may disagree and or the new Legislature may disagree, but we ought to at least talk about it.”

La. 1 Coalition Director Henri Boulet said the sale of unclaimed property bonds does have a track record of helping pay for other infrastructure, and it could potentially be one of many funding streams that help elevate the road.

They are now following up with the treasurer’s office and look forward to further conversation, Boulet said.

Construction on a $46 million portion of La. 1, the only road leading to Port Fourchon, is expected to start next summer. The coalition is looking for an estimated $275 million to finish the project’s next two phases.

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Information from: Daily Comet, https://www.dailycomet.com

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