The LA 1 Coalition announced construction will commence in the summer of 2016 on an elevated roadway leading to Port Fourchon, La.

The $46 million project will include 3,400 ft of elevated highway connecting La. 3235 in Golden Meadow and Port Fourchon. The project is Phase 2C of the nearly-$2 billion, four-phase LA 1 Improvement Project to elevate roadways in the area.

LA 1 Coalition Director Henri Boulet says the new road will clear an existing levee system by 22 ft to accommodate future levee-raising projects. A cement t-will will also be constructed 21 ft above the levee to just beneath the bridge so it will already be completed when the levee authority raises the levees.

Roads in the area traverse miles of marsh and open water, connecting communities that are frequently shut off from each other during high floods. Boulet says construction in the area can be "very challenging due to deltaic soil conditions."

Contractors typically use a different method of bridge construction in the area. Instead of dredging and using barges, which can damage sensitive wetlands, cranes build a section of highway then "boom out" to build the next section. "The cranes are put on trestles on piles over water then build the highway underneath them," he says.

Boulet says the job should go out to bid in February 2016. The coalition is also searching for money to complete the final two segments of Phase 2. The biggest portion of the project, the $274 million Phase 2C, spans the main distance between Golden Meadow and Leeville.

"We're building the two 'cheaper' ends first while we try to get funding for the more expensive middle section," says Boulet.

The $318 million Phase 1, which constructed a 6.8-mile elevated highway from Leeville to Port Fourchon, was completed in December 2011. The $340 million Phase 3 will include 19.5 miles of at-grade highway from U.S. 90 to Larose. Phase 4 is estimated to cost $660 million and construct two additional lanes of elevated highway between Golden Meadow and Port Fourchon.

Boulet says funding projects in such a rural and sparsely-populated area has been difficult. The coalition helps lobby for federal, state and private funds to support the projects. Project are often sold on the national importance of Port Fourchon which handles 20% of the nation's oil and is connected to 50% of the country's refining capacity.

"These roads are critical to the nation's energy supply," says Boulet.