Louisiana will receive $41 million in grants to widen Interstate 12 in St. Tammany Parish among other projects, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced Thursday.
The announcement said $25 million from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants will be used in St. Tammany Parish. Another $16.4 million will be used for roadwork connected to Port Fourchon.
Kennedy’s office said the senator worked with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao starting in July to secure the money after four people died in a traffic accident on I-12 on Memorial Day weekend.
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“The widening of Interstate 12 is critical to public safety,” Kennedy said. “After the Memorial Day weekend fatalities, I started working with state and local leaders to convince Secretary Chao that this funding was necessary to save lives. I want to thank St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister and state Sen. Jack Donahue for working tirelessly with me on this project.”
Many residents on the Northshore blamed the stretch of roadway for the deadly crash that involved nine cars and an 18-wheeler. Drivers said the area had become too congested and the two-lane interstate is too small to support the heavy traffic.
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister has been pushing for project since 2013. She previously appealed to Governor John Bel Edwards and LADOTD to move up the timeline of the project, after the state pushed back construction and in the wake of the fatal accident.
“We committed to doing our part to find a funding source for this project, and this first step is a success, which means we can move forward in the plans to make the I-12 safer for travel," Brister said.
Brister announced the application for the grant in mid-July and committed $7.2 million in funding from the parish government.
The project start date is to be determined after consultation with LADOTD.