LSU's report points out that southeastern Louisiana is expected to see significant construction activity. There are $12.6 billion of construction projects currently under way in New Orleans. An $826-million overhaul of the Louis Armstrong International Airport will start in 2014 and the ongoing $1.6-billion public housing renovations will run through 2017.
According to the report, Baton Rouge also has $23.7-billion worth of projects either under way or set to break ground in 2014. Jim Richardson, a professor of economics at Louisiana State University's Ourso College of Business, says the I-10 corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge will see a number of new plants constructed in the coming years.
Other notable projects are the $721-million Nine Mile Power Plant in Westwego and the $850-million Dyno Nobel International ammonia production facility in Waggaman. "New petrochemical plants will fuel a lot of construction activity on the corridor. A lot of it is due to cheap natural gas prices," says Richardson.
Southwest Louisiana, from Lake Charles to the Texas state line, is projected to be the fastest-growing section of the state with more than $46 billion in industrial projects. The Sasol ethylene complex is set to break ground in 2014 and will generate up to $21 billion worth of construction through 2020. It will be the largest capital expansion project in the state's history and one of the largest direct foreign investments in the U.S. "A lot of spin-off residential, commercial and infrastructure work will result from that," Naquin adds.
Richardson says another boost to the construction industry will be coastal restoration work. A judge has yet to decide how much BP will face in fines for the Gulf oil disaster, but it could top $20 billion, much of which will be directed to restoration.
"The levee work and coastal restoration work is going to be ongoing and it's going to fuel a lot of activity in the coming years," says Richardson.
Infrastructure work will continue developing next year as well. In fiscal year 2013-14, the Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development plans to let $690.1 million to construction, says Lauren Lee, DOTD public information officer, up slightly from FY 2012-13, when DOTD let $688.8 million.
"In the past five years, more than $5.5 billion has been invested in Louisiana's infrastructure," Lee says. "Our focus is ensuring that we allocate every available dollar by reassessing our priorities and making adjustments to our future plans to continue to design and construct projects to enhance our interstate system."
Upcoming work includes the $150 million to $175 million I-49 North project. Phase 1 is scheduled to bid in January 2014, and Phase 2 should bid in April 2014.
Another is the $74.8-million U.S. 190 Mississippi River bridge painting project. Phase 1 began in September 2012 and will end in fall 2014, while the $15 million to $20 million second phase will start in 2014.
Next year's funding comes primarily from the State Transportation Fund and the federal government, Lee says. For FY12-13, LaDOTD let 360 projects, which includes 1,292 miles of roadway. "For FY13-14, we plan to let a total of 474 projects, which includes over 1,555 miles of roadway," she says.