Portion of I-49 North Now Officially Open
Big name state officials were in Caddo Parish this afternoon to officially open an 18.9 mile stretch of Interstate 49.
Governor Bobby Jindal said the construction of Interstate 49 will benefit all of Louisiana because it will make it easier to transport goods from the Midwest and Canada down to Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans, plus will help make Louisiana even more appealing for businesses by becoming a freight hub.
Officials from Caddo Parish towns like Gilliam and Hosston said the construction and opening of I-49 will not only save their communities from an uncertain future, but will help bring new businesses and money to these communities.
The northern section of Interstate 49 between Shreveport and the Arkansas border is being constructed from the Arkansas border to Shreveport, as opposed to the opposite direction. The governor said the project is being constructed that way to ensure the project gets done since it has to get to Shreveport.
I-49 North is also somewhat unusual because it is being constructed as one project as opposed to separate mini projects to ensure the road gets completed and is completed as quickly as possible.
Treasurer John Kennedy told KEEL News he wasn't the day where I-49 opens would ever come because of the difficulties and naysayers saying the project would never get done.
Kennedy said what put this project on the fast track was the ability for the state to get all the financing for it at once by passing the unclaimed property bill to back the bonds and gather enough funds to pay the entire project in full. The treasurer added that with the sum of money the state was putting into the project, the federal government was able to put more money into the project as well.
The current open section on I-49 North stretches from North Market Street (La. Hwy 1) just north of Shreveport's city limits to US 71 near Vivian.
This stretch of highway has a posted speed limit of 75 m.p.h. and offers drivers a smooth, scenic driving experience through the farm land of northern Caddo Parish.
Governor Jindal expects a 11 mile portion to open around March next year.