Billiton donates $500K to LA 1 Coalition

A multinational energy company has joined in the efforts to improve and secure one of the country’s most vital energy corridors in south Louisiana.

BHP Billiton donated $500,000 to the LA 1 Coalition, an organization pushing for the completion of the La. Highway 1 improvement project. Billiton’s donation will go toward the next phase of the project, focused on completing the 19-mile elevated highway from Golden Meadow to Port Fourchon.

The project has already completed more than $362 million of work with its elevated highway from Leeville to Fourchon. The phase connecting Golden Meadow to Leeville is estimated to cost another $346 million. LA 1 Coalition Executive Director Henri Boulet said in a release that Billiton’s donation is a siren to other energy partners to join in support.

“The LA 1 Coalition is extremely grateful to BHP Billiton for their generous recognition of the importance of La. Highway 1 to south Louisiana, and for recognizing the value of this donation as a tool for leveraging other stakeholder’s participation,” he said.

The elevated highway is considered critical to both the area and the nation as a viable road corridor to Fourchon, the operating base for many offshore operations.

As coastal erosion has brought water closer, the original LA 1 now easily gets covered with water during storms. The completion of the highway is expected to insulate the offshore industry from slowing down during minor weather events.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation Development currently expects to take bids on the almost $47-million Segment C of the Golden Meadow-to-Leeville phase this July, according to Boulet. He said the project is expected to take two years to complete.

Boulet hopes the state will take construction bids on Segment A of the elevated highway in the summer of 2017. He said a strong state commitment is the most important factor in attaining additional industry partnerships in the project, although companies have continued to step up, even in a lagging local economy.

“Even in the challenging oil price market, companies are looking long term at partnerships that align to support both their social responsibilities goals in the communities they operate and their long-term business sustainability,” the coalition director said. •