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Work on Pecue Lane/I-10 interchange set to begin

Work is set to begin on the first phase of the Pecue Lane-Interstate 10 interchange, a $59 million project designed to alleviate congestion on I-10 and provide better access to Woman’s Hospital and Siegen Lane.

Tree clearing and prepping the area for construction will begin by the end of the month, a process expected to take 8 to 12 months, according to DOTD documents. Construction plans also will be finalized by the end of the month.

Approximately $17 million already has been spent on the project.

The Metro Council, in a March effort to kickstart the project, voted to commit local dollars for the interchange, and the state hoped to use revenue from a proposed 17-cent gas tax hike to cover  more than $30 million in costs.

The gas tax increase failed, so DOTD head Shawn Wilson says the state pursuing other finance options. If House Bill 2, the state’s construction budget, passes today, the project will get $2 million in priority 1 funding and $38.5 million in priority 5 funding. Still that’s unlikely to become as cash line as the construction budget has for years been stuffed with projects the state will never be able to afford.

“There are so many projects we don’t have enough money for today,” Wilson says. “We’re going to do our best to fund Pecue.”

The city-parish is still exploring where exactly the money will come from. The Pecue Interchange project is part of the Green Light Plan, says Fred Raiford, city-parish transportation director, but the administration is exploring other options, including the use of federal transfer credits originally designated for the streetcar project.

No decision has been made, Raiford stressed, and using those credits would not necessarily mean a delay in the streetcar proposal.

The Pecue interchange project would add entrance and exit ramps on I-10 going both directions, widen Pecue Lane and add turn and through lanes, redo the overpass bridge and extend Reiger Road to connect to Pecue.

The project has been considered for decades and began moving forward in the preliminary stages several years ago.

—Sam Karlin

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