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Police jury agrees to plan to pay for Cove Lane/Nelson Road interchange project

Last Modified: Thursday, March 07, 2013 9:40 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu Parish police jurors on Thursday approved an agreement with the state Department of Transportation and other local entities to use future gambling revenue from the Ameristar Gaming Resort to pay for the estimated $80 million Interstate 210 Cove Lane/Nelson Road interchange project.

Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said Ameristar, DOTD, local entities and state capital outlay money will each fund $20 million. On the local level, $4 million of the dedicated gambling money will go to the DOTD for a five-year period. More than 60 percent of the remaining balance will go to local entities in the parish’s gaming revenue district. The Port of Lake Charles and educational institutions like McNeese State University and Sowela Technical Community College would each get about 17 percent.

Using future gambling revenue, as opposed to existing money, is a “very beneficial feature of this proposal,” Beam said. The new casino is expected to bring in $225 million a year, with about $9.45 million going to the local entities, he said.

“It’s one of these things that comes around, and I think we’re fortunate to have this opportunity,” Beam said. “But it is a big project and will take a little bit of discussion.”

If the casino brings in $225 million annually, Calcasieu Parish and the city of Lake Charles would each have to pay about $1.22 million in gambling funds each year for five years. Sulphur, DeQuincy, Vinton and Iowa would pay a combined $232,000 a year.

Parish Engineer Tim Conner said he project is split into two phases: interchange improvements at Cove Lane and improvements at Nelson Road including the relocation of West Prien Lake Road to the north of Prien Lake Plaza. The first phase is expected to cost $57 million, he said.

If the project’s first phase reduces traffic more than expected, it may cost less to finish the second phase. If that happens, Beam said local share would decrease, but that the state’s and Ameristar’s share would stay the same.

Port officials entered into the same agreement last week.

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