CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A new section of I49 North is now open to drivers in Caddo Parish.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was on-hand for a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. to mark the opening of the new 18.9-mile section between Highway 1 (North Market Street) in Shreveport and Highway 71 just north of Gilliam.
In a statement released shortly after the official opening, Jindal said, "Completing this segment of I-49 North demonstrates our continued commitment to finishing the entire I-49 North project. When I-49 North is completed, it will be a vital corridor for the flow of commerce that will support our economy and spur more business investment. Investing in our roads is critical for both economic development and keeping Louisiana drivers safe. I-49 North has been in the making for decades and we're proud that our administration put a plan in place to fully fund this critical corridor."
A four mile stretch between Martin Luther King Drive and North Market Street and the final segment north to Arkansas are still under construction.
The entire I-49 North project spans 36 miles from north of Shreveport to the Arkansas border and is expected to be completed by 2016 or 2017.
When completed, I49 North will connect I20 in Shreveport to I30 in Arkansas. Hwy 549 in Arkansas will become I-49 once that connection is made. Hwy 549 currently ends in Doddridge, about 5 miles north of the Louisiana state line. That's expected to happen by mid-to-late summer in 2014.
According to Gov. Jindal's office, the $171 million stretch will support an average of 10,000 commuters daily.