Jul 14, 2010 6:02 PM by Melissa Canone
The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and state and local officials today celebrated the widening of the U.S. 171 corridor, which spans from Lake Charles to Shreveport.
"The widening of U.S. 171, which travels the length of Louisiana's western border, will serve as a crucial north-south evacuation route as well as improve highway safety and accommodate the transportation needs of businesses and residents alike," said DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas, P.E. "The improvements along this corridor will help encourage economic growth across the region by providing a reliable route for transporting goods and providing easier access between communities."
The completion of the final segment of U.S. 171 from Florien to Many opens a 173-mile stretch of U.S.171 that is now four-laned from Lake Charles to Shreveport. The 6.6-mile Florien-to-Many contract was awarded for $34.6 million.
All along the U.S. 171 corridor, towns are expecting increased opportunities and access, and thanked the DOTD and state for its investment in the future.
George Swift, President/CEO for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said, "This long-awaited completion will tie the north and southwest regions together. For too long, lack of a good highway has stifled economic opportunities. This new corridor opens up this side of the state for transportation, shipping, and tourism."
"We have long felt that the widening of U.S. 171 and future improvements are keys to the potential economic development for the Town of Many, Sabine Parish and Toledo Bend (State Park)," said Many Mayor Ken Freeman.
"Fisher is a town rich in history," said Fisher Mayor Susan Slay. "We hope that the anticipated increase in traffic on U.S. 171 will encourage people to visit all of the historic landmarks that we have to offer."
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, "The early pioneers of this project had a vision and understood the positive economic benefit this project would eventually have on the entire western region of the state. New development has already started along those segments of U.S. 171 that were finished several years ago."
Shreveport Mayor Cedric B. Glover said, "The completion of this highway further establishes Shreveport-Bossier as a transportation hub and will greatly enhance our status as a regional center. Coupled with a completed I-49, Northwest and West Louisiana will be poised for unprecedented growth and development. I am extremely proud of DOTD's investment in this crucial north-south connection across western Louisiana and the state's recognition of the need. I believe, without question, it will serve as a powerful economic catalyst for every community it touches."
The total investment made by the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) Program to complete the four-laning of U.S. 171 from Lake Charles to Shreveport was $615 million. The TIMED improvements along the 173-mile corridor were constructed in 23 separate projects.
The TIMED Program is the single largest transportation program in state history. The program is designed to enhance economic development in Louisiana through an investment in transportation projects. The completion of U.S. 171 is the second major north-south corridor to be completed under the TIMED Program this year. In April, the final segment of U.S. 165 in Georgetown, La., was completed and opened a 202-mile stretch from I-10 in Iowa, La., to Bastrop. Another corridor, U.S. 167, is also being widened to four lanes.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state's aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call DOTD's Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).