Covering Louisiana

Jul 25, 2014 12:58 PM by AP

Ascension agrees to share in highway study cost

GONZALES, La. (AP) - The Ascension Parish Council will share the cost of a study with Iberville Parish to determine whether a new highway should be built on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

If the Iberville Parish Council agrees, Ascension would provide $125,000 toward the study.

The Advocate reported state matching money also would be provided.

Called the West Bank Connector, the route would extend from Interstate 10 west of Port Allen to Louisiana Highway 1 south of Plaquemine.

The project would also include a new Mississippi River bridge at Plaquemine.

Such a highway could open hundreds of thousands of acres of vacant land for development on the river's west bank, said Craig Gardner, director of business development for council consultant SJB Group.

The Baton Rouge design firm has put together information on the proposed project for the state and local governing bodies.

"It's needed. Chemical plants are looking for more sites on the west bank," Gardner said.

The new highway and bridge would relieve congestion on I-10 through Baton Rouge and provide an alternate evacuation route during hurricanes and emergencies, he said.

A more accessible west bank could mean up to $2 billion in new construction, he said.

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