DOTD breaks ground on Hwy. 70 widening project

Staff Report
Ascension Parish Government shared a photo of Hwy. 70 near the Sunshine Bridge. Located in St. James Parish, the bridge is near the Ascension Parish line in the Donaldsonville area.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, along with state and local officials, held a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 13 for the $53.2 million project to widen Hwy. 70 from the Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish to Sorrento in Ascension Parish.

The project will widen Hwy. 70 from the Hwy. 22 interchange in Sorrento to the base of the bridge on the east side of the Mississippi River, DOTD officials announced in a news release. A separate two-lane highway will be constructed parallel to the existing two-lane road, forming a four-lane divided highway.

Louisiana DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson is shown in a file photo.

“Because of the industry growth in this region, we have seen the need to move this project forward," Wilson said. "This capacity project will be immensely beneficial to this region as it continues to grow and will allow for easier and safer travels for the businesses and industry of the region, as well as the citizens who use LA 70 on a regular basis. The community and the trades rely on an efficient roadway system for their economic growth, which is what this project will accomplish for the success and future of not only Ascension and St. James parishes, but this region of the state.”

State Sen. Ed Price (D-Gonzales) said during the ceremony the project for Ascension and St. James parishes "has been a long time coming."

"There's a lot of traffic on this road as you can see this morning. It's tough to get caught in traffic in the morning and the afternoon, so this will go a long way to improve traffic flow in this area," Price said.

State Rep. Ken Brass, right, is shown in a file photo from Oct. 21, 2022 with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves in Donaldsonville.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) and state Sen. Ken Brass (D-Vacherie) also touted the investment into the project.

Schexnayder stated in the release the project will help relieve traffic and create an industrial corridor for the two parishes.

Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder is shown in a file photo.

"This will benefit the people and the region with future growth for jobs and industry,” Schexnayder said.

“The expansion of Hwy. 70 and the addition of a roundabout at the Hwy. 70/3125 intersection is just another example of state’s commitment to improving our infrastructure throughout the River Parishes,” Brass said. “Hwy. 70 is a critical east/west bank corridor that is traveled by thousands of residents each day in which the flow of traffic impacts our local businesses and industries.”

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment and St. James Parish President Peter Dufresne also touted the project.

“Thanks to the relationships we have developed with the state, DOTD, and our legislative delegation, we were able to secure this major project to the joint benefit of not only Ascension Parish and St. James Parish, but all our surrounding parishes whose residents travel this area daily,” Cointment said. “This will go a long way in getting traffic moving through the parish.”

“We are very thankful that this much needed project finally came to fruition. Increasing the traffic capacity at every one of our Mississippi River crossings is going to open up a lot more economic development growth and opportunities,” Dufresne said.

Currently, more than 33,000 vehicles travel along the corridor daily. In the next 20 years, the number of motorists who will utilize this corridor is anticipated to increase to nearly 50,000 vehicles per day.

Crews are currently working on utility relocations, with roadway construction estimated to begin in April, with an estimated completion in Spring 2025, weather permitting.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.