An African-American history museum, natural gas system improvements in Zachary and an Iberville Parish hospital are among the area projects competing for limited dollars in the state construction budget.
Legislators adopted a state construction budget, also called capital outlay, with more spending than the state can afford.
The Jindal administration will divvy up $104 million among $124 million in funding requests.
Assistant Commissioner Jerry Jones with the Division of Administration told legislators that the final list likely will be unveiled in October before the state Bond Commission.
Jones, who oversees the state construction budget, said the Jindal administration only will advance feasible projects.
“Define feasible,” said state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge.
Jones said some projects are not construction-related, such as mobile radios for police cars.
“A lot of people have a lot of wants. There are a lot of projects that are submitted that are purely wants,” Jones said.
Projects in the state construction budget usually are funded over several years. They are sorted into a priority system that determines when they receive funding.
The state Bond Commission already handled funding for ongoing projects. At stake later this year will be the new projects competing for limited dollars.
Referred to as Priority 2, the designation benefits new projects by funding the completion of construction plans, land acquisition, site preparation and some construction.
State Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the state construction budget bill, said the Jindal administration hasn’t indicated any problems with the area projects competing for the funding.
“We fared pretty well. The delegation came together and supported the projects,” Greene said.
Important projects include the Essen Lane interchange, expansion of LSU’s South Campus and efforts to relieve traffic congestion in West Baton Rouge Parish, Greene said.
Also in line for new dollars:
• The replacement of the air conditioning system at the State Police Training Academy.
• An emergency preparedness and disaster recovery center in Baton Rouge.
• Heating and cooling system upgrades at the Old State Capitol and the State Archives.
• Waterproofing and plaster repairs at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
• The expansion of the Odell S. Williams Now and Then Museum of African-American History on South Boulevard.
• Renovation of LSU’s French House.
• The replacement of natural gas distribution lines in Zachary.
• Land acquisition and planning for a hospital in Iberville Parish.
The Essen Lane interchange will add an exit ramp from Interstate 12 westbound onto Essen Lane.
Jodi Conachen, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said the project will be fully funded if the $1 million in Priority 2 funding is approved along with “trailing dollars,” which is money in future years.
She said the project still is in the design phase.
“A construction schedule has not yet been determined,” Conachen said.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said the State Police Training Academy needs a new air conditioning system, especially for the gymnasium and locker rooms. The project is in line to receive $900,000 in priority 2 funding.
Edmonson said box fans are set up in the locker rooms and elsewhere because of the inefficient air conditioning system.
The academy’s doors and windows are warping. The roofs need to be replaced.
“It’s just 30 years of wear and tear,” Edmonson said.
The Odell S. Williams Now and Then Museum of African-American History is competing for $100,000 to expand its South Boulevard facility.
Museum organizer Sadie Roberts-Joseph said the museum is grappling with inadequate funding from admission and private donors.
She said construction dollars would help the 10-year-old museum expand and to accept traveling exhibits.
“We’re relatively small and we’re stocked with history, information and artifacts,” Roberts-Joseph said.
In Iberville Parish, residents have been without a public hospital since the 2009 closure of the financially insolvent River West Medical Center.
The parish is working with Ochsner Health System to build an emergency care facility for urgent and outpatient services, eliminating the need for residents to cross the Mississippi River to get critical treatment.
“There’s not another hospital on the west side for 30 miles,” said state Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part.
Robert Galloway, who is working as a consultant to the parish on the project, said money is needed through the state construction budget for land acquisition, planning and other expenses not covered by federal funds being sought.
He said the new building would be built to accommodate in-patient beds to possibly grow the facility into a hospital rather than just an emergency clinic.
West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley Berthelot is looking to the state construction budget for help in building a toll-way over the Intracoastal Waterway, connecting La. 415 and La. 1.
The $70 million project is seeking a gradual infusion of $12 million in state funds.
Berthelot said there currently is only one bridge over the waterway in West Baton Rouge Parish. If there is a wreck on the bridge, traffic backs up, and the detour takes 53 miles, he said.
Berthelot said 24,000 people live in West Baton Rouge Parish while 45,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day.
“It’s more of a regional issue than it is a local parish issue,” he said.
At the Old State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge and the State Archives on Essen Lane, maintaining temperature levels is a problem.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler said the water used in the heating and air conditioning system at the Old State Capitol is drawn from the city through an extended pipe. By the time it gets to the Old State Capitol, he said, hot water is lukewarm.
“We certainly recognize the budget issues, but these are state-owned buildings,” he said.
Local projects in line for new construction funding
• State Police Training Academy
Seeking money for air-conidioning repairs
• Louisiana Digital Computer Facility (EBR)
• South Campus (LSU land acquisition)
• Southern Board of Supervisors
• Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission
• New Iberville Parish hospital
• La. 415 Bridge
• Zachary Natural Gas Distribution
• Airport Aviation Business Park (EBR)
• French House
Historic building need updating
• Old State Capitol
Heating and cooling problems creating mold and mildew
• Capitol City Family Health Center
• Odell S. Williams New and Then Museum of African-American History
• USDA Veterinary Biologic Facility
• State Archives
• LSU Livestock Educational Facility
• LSU Old Engineering Shops
• Old Governor’s Mansion
• Essen Lane Interchange