Covering Louisiana

Oct 26, 2013 2:35 PM by katc

Company will study toll-road proposal for two Louisiana Parishes

Ascension and Livingston parish leaders have agreed to allow a Los Angeles company to study the economic feasibility of a privately owned 2-mile elevated toll road linking the parishes.

American Transportation Partners would have two years to study the proposed private road tying Louisiana Highway 933 at Louisiana Highway 42 in Ascension with Louisiana Highway 16 in Livingston, according to the agreement.

The toll road would be built just upstream of the Louisiana 42 bridge crossing the Amite River near Port Vincent.

The Advocate reported that under the deal, if American Transportation Partners finds the project is feasible, the company would enter into a public-private partnership to design, build, pay for and own the new road.

The company also would set the tolls independently, parish officials said.

American Transportation Partners, and its parent, Tamkin Development Corp., specialize in public-private partnerships and have completed more than 200 such projects in 96 cities.

American Transportation has handled a variety of infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to tunnels and airports, according to information on its website.

The Ascension Parish Council approved the agreement earlier this month. The Livingston Parish Council granted approval in August.

In recent weeks, Ascension officials have discussed the toll road deal as a concept that could build a long-discussed and expensive connection at no cost to the parish.

"If someone wants to spend money to build a road in Ascension Parish, I'm all for it," Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said.

"I can't get a (road) sales tax passed, but if they want come in and build road for free, I will be for it," he said.

Ascension voters rejected a 25-year, $200 million half-cent road tax last November.

As part of the new study agreement, Ascension must put up $10,000 in startup fees. Livingston Parish officials have done the same.

Under the agreement, Livingston and Ascension parishes cannot grant rights to any other company to study a toll road within two miles of the existing project during the two-year deal, which was dated to begin Sept. 1.

Building a link between the two parishes over the Amite River has been considered for several years, including during the process of studying a more extensive Baton Rouge Loop.

But connection has not gotten off the ground because of funding and feasibility questions.

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