Walter Pierce

Toll roads coming: Find out more Tuesday

by Walter Pierce

If you attend the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo on the last weekend in July, it will be your last chance to get to the sandy vacation strip without paying a toll. The new LA 1 Expressway will be activated after the fishing tournament, and getting to Grand Isle in a two-axle vehicle (car, pick-up, van, etc.) will cost $2.50. The toll is only applied to southbound traffic headed to Grand Isle and Port Fouchon; northbound traffic pays no toll, similar to the way tolls are now collected on the Causeway bridge over Lake Ponchartrain between Metairie and Mandeville in suburban New Orleans.

Currently the LA 1 Expressway is in phase one: a new toll bridge at Leeville in south Lafourche Parish. Eventually, the expressway will comprise 19 miles of elevated roadway from Golden Meadow to the Gulf of Mexico, providing access to Port Fouchon, a major port for the offshore energy industry, and Grand Isle. The state Department of Transportation and Development, through a series of public meetings, is introducing a new statewide toll-collection system known as GeauxPass. One such public meeting will be held Tuesday evening in Lafayette.

GeauxPass operates on open road tolling technology, which allows travelers to drive the toll road without having to slow down or stop at toll booths. The technology will also be used on the Lafayette Regional Expressway, a still-unfunded and long talked-about loop around Lafayette in the western part of the parish that is years, perhaps decades, to come.

Using toll roads to fund infrastructure construction that would otherwise never happen or take years due to cost and government priorities isn’t a new idea. As Acadiana Business detailed in its May cover story, “[Taking its toll](content/view/4283/1077/ ?phpMyAdmin=cb1bd80dae43fb3ab2216a6427d6502e),” there has been talk of using tolls to fund Interstate 49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans.

Find out more about the LA 1 Expressway and GeauxPass at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Frem Boustany Convention Center at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. Call (866) 662-8987 to find out more.