I-49 Bill Passes Committee - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-49 Bill Passes Committee

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A state Senate committee has decided that Louisiana should pay for the construction of Interstate 49 by selling bonds, then partially paying them off with cash from the state's unclaimed property fund.

Up to $15,000,000 in the state treasury each year could be used to help pay off bonds for the construction, under the bill by Representative Billy Montgomery of Haughton. The Senate Finance Committee passed the measure without opposition.

The highway is planned to connect New Orleans to Kansas City, but Louisiana's portion of the interstate has only been built from Lafayette to Shreveport. The stretches from Lafayette to New Orleans and Shreveport to the Arkansas line remain unfinished.

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the unclaimed property fund has steadily grown over the past decade: about $15,000,000 was collected in 1996, and $45,000,000 will be collected this year. Montgomery says the money borrowed through bonds would be used to draw down additional federal money, and the total I-49 funding -- which could be as much as $750,000,000-- would be split evenly to pay for completion of the north and south portions.

The bill goes next to the full Senate for debate.

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