Posted: Dec 6, 2013 5:05 PM by Jason Newton
Updated: Dec 6, 2013 6:51 PM
SORRENTO - There's more fallout from the decision by Shell Oil not to build a new plant in Ascension Parish, as major road projects are now on the back burner.
Bold statements were made by Shell a few months ago that they were thinking about locating a $12.5 billion plant near Sorrento, but no actual contracts or legally-binding commitments were ever made. Now, some long-awaited road construction will be on hold indefinitely.
Highway 70 was poised to be widened from two lanes to four as part of an agreement with the state. Shell was supposed to pick up the bill, but that deal is now dead.
"Hopefully, DOTD will pick up that project," Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez told News 2 on Friday.
Highway 70 between I-10 and the Sunshine Bridge already sees heavy traffic due to plants like Nucor and CF Industries, so it's been on the radar for improvement for a while. However, DOTD cautioned not to expect construction there any time soon.
"It is not high on the priority list," said Rodney Mallett, communications director for DOTD. "There are a lot of projects on that priority list. But we do recognize Highway 70 as an important corridor."
DOTD has studied this road since 2003. They're waiting on the state to allocate funds before any road widening happens.
"We have money for studies and preliminary plans," Mallett said. "But that doesn't mean we have construction money to follow through."