The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD) propose to improve system linkage by improving connectivity of Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) from Lapalco Boulevard/Behrman Highway (LA 428) to Woodland Highway (LA 406); meet the challenges of transportation demand as identified in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, New Orleans Urbanized Area; while complimenting modal interrelationships between traffic on LA 23 and maritime access in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Project Update: March 15, 2017
The preparation of the preservation alternatives report for the Judge Perez Bridge and as applied to the Belle Chasse Tunnel continues. The planning and environmental analysis will need to fully consider the preservation alternatives prior to identifying an alternative for implementation.
Review of the preservation alternatives report under the Programmatic Agreement Among The Federal Highway Administration, The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Officer Regarding Management of Historic Bridges in Louisiana must be initiated with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Work on the project continues, but issuance of an environmental finding for the project cannot occur until the Section 106 consultation ends. To find out more about the LDOTD Historic Bridge Inventory and Program, please consult the LDOTD website at: Here
To reflect the preparation of the preservation alternatives information, an update to the project title has been made at DOTD’s request to LA 23: Belle Chasse Bridge & Tunnel (HBI). In addition, updates occurred within the project purpose and need.
Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) is a principal arterial which serves as the primary access point between Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. Improving transportation system linkage by improving connectivity of Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) from Lapalco Boulevard to Woodland Highway could benefit traffic operations in this area. Improvements to LA 23 remain a Megaproject Priority A in the 2015 Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update and Tier III implementation project (FY 2029-2044) in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan adopted by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission 1 & 2. Along the corridor, LA 23 crosses the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway via movable bridge (Judge Perez Bridge) and tunnel. The GIWW, a 1,300 mile inland commercial waterway, connects established maritime-dependent businesses in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes with a broad local, regional, national and international clientele via the numerous commercial port facilities oriented to the waterway as well as along the Mississippi River. The proposed action for this project must maintain or improve modal interrelationships between vehicular traffic on LA 23 and maritime traffic in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The EA will carefully examine the impacts of building a new bridge (and new roads to connect to the bridge) on nearby buildings, businesses, homes and the natural environment. For more information about Environmental Assessments, click here.
Improving connectivity in the Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) corridor addresses current conditions and operational constraints created by aging infrastructure. Constructed in 1956, the Belle Chasse Tunnel closes whenever maintenance activities warrant. During these periods, the Judge Perez Bridge, constructed in 1968, operates with two-way traffic, effectively reducing the capacity for traffic at this location by half. The Bridge also must open its center span to accommodate maritime traffic needs on the GIWW, stopping the flow of northbound traffic and creating additional operational delays on the Belle Chasse Highway (LA 23) corridor. Solutions in place to maintain peak-period traffic operations also affect maritime operations on the GIWW.
Because of the importance of this transportation link, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (NORPC) has included the Belle Chasse Tunnel and Judge Perez Bridge replacement as part of the adopted Long range regional transportation plan. DOTD has identified the project as a Priority A Megaproject in the financially constrained State Transportation Plan.
1 2015 Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update, competed in December 2015, as downloaded from http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LaDOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Transportation_Plan/Pages/default.aspx.
2 Tier 3 project, FY 15-24, Metropolitan Transportation Plan, New Orleans Urbanized Area, Fiscal Year 2015-2014, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, adopted 01/31/2015.