General DeGaulle project finished

Local politicians gathered in Algiers on Friday to celebrate the completion of $30 million in drainage, lighting and traffic improvements on General DeGaulle Drive, a project touted as proof of the value of toll dollars.

Barriere Construction Co. LLC and Fenton Excavating and Construction Inc. had been approved for substantial completion of the project months ago, but the two companies were still completing several punchlist items at the site.

The project increased the drainage capacity on the roadway to reduce street flooding by adding larger concrete pipes. The state also widened the roadway by adding turning lanes at several major intersections. Finally, the project replaced street lighting on a stretch of the roadway. Construction was paid for with about $5.1 million from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board and the remainder from toll money that had been sitting in an escrow account.

LeBas said the project improves a major thoroughfare that connects Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes. More importantly, the street serves as the main evacuation route for thousands of residents.

“These projects represent toll dollars at work,” LeBas said.

Work on the drainage project began in 2010, and the roadway improvements began in 2011. State Sen. David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, helped secure funding for the work, which he called long overdue. General DeGaulle Drive has had periodic problems with flooding, and even during Hurricane Isaac, water pooled along certain parts of the roadway, rendering them impassable for many vehicles.

As part of the project, the canal that runs down the center of General DeGaulle Drive was widened and deepened, and box culverts were installed. The roadway project added turning lanes at Holiday Drive and created U-turn lanes at Rue Parc Fontaine, Westbend Parkway and Garden Oaks Drive.

Officials hope the improvements will improve access to the newly renovated Lakewood Golf Club, the Aurora Shopping Center, where new construction also is occurring, and the recently completed Federal City project.