Louisiana state law prohibits design-build contracts unless an exception is made by the legislature. The ban against design-build contracts stems from the thought that it gives too much power and money to a single firm, rather than having two or more firms design and build infrastructure projects separately. However, proponents point out that such contracts often save time and money. The Louisiana Senate and Governor Jindal agreed with the latter, leading the governor to sign into law Senate Bill 159.
The obvious impact for New Orleans will be two new ferries replacing the aging vessels at the Canal Street/Algiers Point and Lower Algiers/Chalmette crossings. While this surely spells good news for motorists and pedestrians who frequent the ferries, a closer look at the Bill reveals great news to residents and workers in neighboring Plaquemines Parish. The Bill specifically requires the Louisiana DOTD to “consider a design-build contract to replace the tunnel on Louisiana Highway 23 and shall submit a written report on its recommendations to the House and Senate committees on transportation, highways, and public works not later than February 1, 2016.”
Anyone who has ever driven through this leaky tunnel will surely expect with confidence that the DOTD will feel compelled to recommend its replacement. While this will be welcomed news to the residents of Plaquemines Parish, it will also have a profound positive impact on the local maritime and longshore industries. Highway 23 is the main artery leading to and from the Port of Plaquemines as well as Venice, an important hub for offshore oil and gas operations. Assuming the DOTD makes the obvious recommendation, local residents and workers could enjoy more efficient and safer transportation within the next few years.