LA 1 moving in right direction

Friday’s completion of the $137.5 million, 5.4 mile stretch Phase 1A of the La. Highway 1 Expressway was a welcome move in the right direction for Lafourche Parish and Louisiana as a whole.

Adding the overland route as a companion with waterways including Bayou Lafourche, the Houma Navigational Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway goes the extra mile in preparing the region for increased avenues for commerce and recreational activity.

As the only access route to Port Fourchon, La. 1 will help the region maintain its place as the premier international energy hub for offshore activity.

Although oil and gas is the area’s primary user, Port Fourchon is projected to service 44 percent of deepwater plans and 58 percent of off shore drilling in the central Gulf of Mexico during the next 30 years, the addition of La 1 helps offer opportunities for the diversification of shipping multiple products and enhancing both marine and overland shipping as a location alternative to New Orleans and Houston.

The road will also allow a much more efficient evacuation route for citizens of the low-lying communities when hurricanes roll through the area, always a plus in our community.

LA 1 Coalition Board Chairman Ted Falgout noted during a ceremony of local and state dignitaries that while they celebrate the elevated section of highway opening, there are still 19 more miles of structure to be completed.

Residents within the Tri-parish region have made several advances in rebuilding efforts following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the federal deepwater drilling moratorium, a disaster or its own, and been able to proudly rebound again and again.

The completion of this La 1 segment is an example of proactive initiatives and not reactive necessity.

We believe there is still much to do. A “build and they will come” philosophy might work in the movies, but in real life even major accomplishments can fall flat if it is not backed up with a usage plan.

To have drivers make use of La 1 as it stretches to completion, local leaders need to work with developers and owners of commercial vehicles and families discovering all the Louisiana coast has to offer have a reason to take this road to somewhere.

The first 5.4-mile drive has been made. We can enjoy the advance, but remain far from the ultimate goal.