Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by Dept. of Natural Resources Sec. Scott Angelle, Dept. of Transportation and Development Sec. Sherri H. LeBas, state and local officials, and energy industry officials to highlight a $10.2 million investment of Capital Outlay and federal safety dollars for the La. 3276 reconstruction project in DeSoto Parish, which will reconstruct and clear vegetation to improve sight distance on a four mile segment of La. 3276 from U.S. 171 to I-49. At the press conference, the Governor also highlighted his administration's total investment of $72.1 million for road projects in DeSoto Parish.
Governor Jindal said, "Because of the many businesses, employees and trucks that poured into the region, this area has felt some growing pains. Folks living out here found themselves having to navigate around more-and-more tractor trailers, while truckers had to move huge loads on small roads. My number one priority as Governor is to create jobs -- which means providing our businesses and industries with the infrastructure they need to grow and succeed. This $10.2 million investment in Hwy. 3276 will make this region safer for surrounding communities while providing businesses better roads for moving goods."
A half-mile segment of this project near U.S. 171 will be widened to include a center-turn lane and the rest of the segment will be brought up to current design standards by constructing 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders as opposed to the existing 10-foot travel lanes and narrow shoulders. The project will also provide a better route and a safer commute for folks traveling to I-49. Upon completion, these adjustments will improve safety for the commuters who depend on this road. These upgrades are expected to begin in late 2011 or early 2012.
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle said, "This improvement to an invaluable piece of Louisiana's highway system is an investment in the natural gas industry, an enhancement to the quality of life for the citizens of this area, and an example of Louisiana's efforts to maintain the critical balance of energy, environment and economy that allows Louisiana to continue to flourish as America's Energy State."
DOTD Secretary LeBas said, "We are thankful for Governor Jindal and the Legislature's commitment to the reconstruction of La. 3276 through Stonewall. This project will allow for safer, more efficient travel for the more than 6,200 people who travel this route each day."
"I applaud Governor Jindal for his continued commitment to improving infrastructure in this region," said Senator Sherri Smith Cheek, District 38. "I am excited about the transportation and economic benefits that this project will have for the local community."
"We appreciate Governor Jindal's efforts to further infrastructure projects in this region," said Representative Richard T. Burford, District 7. "The upcoming improvements to La. 3276 mean enhanced travel through Stonewall, as well as improved access to I-49 North."
"This stretch of La. 3276 is an essential artery for the community of Stonewall," said Representative Frank A. Howard, District 24. "We look forward to this project getting underway, and to the increased access it will provide for residents and motorists traveling through the region."
Kevin McCotter, Chesapeake Energy Corporation's Vice President -- Corporate Development said, "A key driver to the Haynesville Shale being named as the top producing natural gas field in the United States is the pro-investment policies of Governor Jindal's Administration. Investments in infrastructure such as Highway 3276 provide a massive engine for economic growth because they generate revenue for state and local governments, improve our communities and earn a positive return for Louisiana taxpayers."
Lem Smith, Director of U.S. Government and Regulatory Affairs for EnCana Oil & Gas said, "We appreciate the Governor's support for the responsible development of Haynesville Shale and infrastructure such as this highway, which is good for industry, families and the state."
"Work on this segment of roadway will benefit local residents and businesses alike by improving access to I-49 North through the town of Stonewall," said Stonewall Mayor Charles Waldon.
"The reconstruction of this important segment of roadway will improve the safety and efficiency of traveling through the region," said Rodney Arbuckle, Sheriff of DeSoto Parish. "Motorists will see this stretch of La. 3276 become an integral part of transportation in the region."
This roadway is a vital connection I-49 and U.S. 171," said Dwayne Mitchell, DeSoto Parish Police Jury President. "Its reconstruction will provide long-lasting benefits to the region by increasing the movement of freight."
At the press conference, the Governor highlighted $72.1 million in transportation investments for DeSoto Parish, which includes a $42.4 million TIMED project that four-laned a segment of the existing U.S. 171 and created a new roadway to the west of Mansfield, which will serve as a Mansfield bypass; a $3.3 million project that resurfaced 8.5 miles of La. 172 between the Texas state line and La. 5; and a $2.5 million project that resurfaced a 7.3-mile stretch of La. 177 from La. 175 to La. 346.
Since taking office in 2008, the Jindal Administration has made transportation and infrastructure projects a top priority by investing $3.9 billion in Louisiana's infrastructure.
Minor work on the project began in January 2011.