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

By 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.