Gov. Edwards announces major projects using GARVEE

Baton Rouge – Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., announced recently the state’s intention to utilize federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds (GARVEE Bonds) to construct four major projects in three areas of Louisiana that have been part of the State’s Transportation Master Plan for decades.
The state will begin the administrative process to request approximately $600 million in bonds, consistent with current state law. When the funding is received, it will allow the state to construct the following:
• A substantial portion of the I-10 reconstruction and widening from the Mississippi River Bridge to the I-10/I-12 split in Baton Rouge; widening is required to maintain traffic during the reconstruction process.
• A new Interchange on I-10 in Kenner at Loyola Drive to serve the new Armstrong airport terminal currently under construction.
• A new access from I-20 directly into Barksdale AFB in Bossier City.
GARVEE bonds allow the state to repay the debt with federal highway funds the state receives each year. The debt will be paid over 12 years. Significant financial contributions are being made by local governments and the metropolitan planning organizations in the impacted areas of the state.
“This innovative funding mechanism is needed in Louisiana at this time,” Gov. Edwards said. “These projects impact three large areas of our state and are of the utmost importance for economic development and for convenience to the traveling public. The longer we wait, the more they cost and the more we lose. It makes sense to move forward using GARVEE bonds and significant local contributions to fund these projects. We hear complaints of our crumbling infrastructure and growing congestion all the time. Without reliable funding available, tools like this will help us accelerate much-needed reconstruction and improvements to our system.”
“Make no mistake, this does not solve our transportation funding problem, it simply addresses the tip of the iceberg of Additionally, the Department will proceed to seek approval to use design-build for the Loyola Interchange and Barksdale entrance projects such that both projects will not have to wait for” funding once environmental clearance is achieved. infrastructure needs.”
All of the projects are expected to receive environmental clearance by the end of 2018, which is also the anticipated timeframe that the GARVEE program will be finalized. The Department will make a decision on the preferred delivery method for the I-10 reconstruction and widening once the constructability analysis that is underway is completed.
Edwards appoints members to sexual harassment and discrimination task force
Baton Rouge – In the wake of the recent revelations of sexual harassment in many industries, Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed members of the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy. The board is comprised of seven members who will review current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as research and identify the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.
“Sexual harassment and discrimination have no place in the workplace and this task force will provide critical feedback on the current policies and procedures in our state agencies that are working and what improvements are needed in order to provide safe work environments for our employees,” said Gov. Edwards. “Every member of this task force brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, and I have confidence in their ability to meet the goals and objectives set before them.”
The task force will hold its first meeting Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. in the Iowa Room (1-153) of the Claiborne Building located at 1201 N. 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.
The members include: Terrence Ginn, deputy commissioner for policy and legislative affairs at the Louisiana Board of Regents; Sandra Schober, deputy director of administrative services for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office; Makayla Weber-Harris, staffing assistant division administrator of the Louisiana State Civil Service; Janice Lansing (Chairperson), chief financial officer of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Tina Vanichchagorn, deputy executive counsel, Office of the Governor; Suzette Meiske (Vice Chair), human resources director for the Louisiana Community Technical College System; and Dr. Courtland Chaney, Ph.D., retired faculty, Louisiana State University School of Business.
Their duties will include but are not limited to the following:
• Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.
• Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.
• Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.
• Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
• Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.
The task force will make specific recommendations to ensure uniformity of sexual harassment and discrimination policies across the agencies and submit a report to the governor regarding its findings no later than March 1, 2018.