- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana is getting a $60 million federal grant that will allow the state to complete a nearly 15-mile pavement replacement and lane addition project between the Interstate 10 and Interstate 49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson on Tuesday announced the FASTLANE funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Edwards submitted the application for funding in April. He and Wilson began working on the application during the governor’s transition last year. The entire project is estimated to cost more than $300 million.

Edwards and Wilson said the federal government’s investment enables the state to dedicate available funds to advancing other infrastructure projects.

“While we are extremely grateful that the federal government is making this investment in Louisiana, this award will make it possible to invest in infrastructure projects across the State of Louisiana,” Edwards said in a statement. “From North Louisiana to South Louisiana - East to West - we have infrastructure needs that have been ignored for years. A robust Louisiana economy is dependent upon a strong infrastructure, and I am looking forward to getting projects underway across the state.”

Those projects include construction of a new Washington Street off ramp in Baton Rouge, advancing the design of a reconstructed interchange at Loyola Avenue for the New Orleans Airport, improving railroad crossings on the freight-rail corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and advancing design of the I-20/220 interchange into Barksdale.

“The entire state stands to benefit from this grant,” Edwards said. “By freeing up state funds for this project, we will be in a position to redirect resources to other critical infrastructure needs across Louisiana. This was a collaborative effort between state, federal and local stakeholders that will have significant impact on our state.”

“As we consider ways to invest in transportation infrastructure for Louisiana, this grant is a great first step to beginning that process,” Wilson said.

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