New Orleans construction projects see funding restored — for now

Republicans may walk back project funding commitments all over the state next month.

By: - September 17, 2021 10:58 am

(New Orleans – CBD: Louisiana Superdome” by wallyg is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The Louisiana State Bond Commission approved funding Thursday for over $30 million worth of New Orleans area construction projects and committed to spending $53 million more on city projects a month after blocking the same money over COVID-19 restrictions.

Republicans on the bond commission withheld funding for New Orleans projects in August in part because they were upset about Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s COVID-19 rules for indoor spaces like restaurants, bars and music venues. The city’s regulations are stricter than those put in place in the rest of the state — frustrating conservatives in the state legislature. 

The commission’s reversal Thursday means construction funding will move forward for: the Superdome, New Orleans City Park, LSU’s dental school, Southern University-New Orleans, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Port of New Orleans, the city’s west bank ferry, Odyssey House addiction treatment program, a new science and math high school, and a children’s mental health facility. 

It’s not clear why the Republicans approved the funding this month over last month. New Orleans’ COVID-19 restrictions haven’t been lifted and the bond commission members mostly didn’t explain publicly their reasons for changing their minds.

The Superdome funding is the exception. Last month, Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said last month he wanted to delay approving the Superdome funding until confusion over policies for season ticket holders was cleared up.

In keeping with New Orleans COVID-19 restrictions, the football team is requiring everyone attending home games in the Superdome to either show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. Cortez and others wanted to make sure season ticket holders were given a chance to hold on to their seats even if they wanted to sit out the season and get a refund because of those COVID-19 rules.

Cortez said Thursday he was satisfied that the Saints were accommodating season ticket holders who didn’t want to attend games this season — and he didn’t see a reason to hold up the Superdome construction funding any longer.

But $25 million committed to future spending on the Superdome as well as dollars for dozens of other projects around the state may still be up in the air. It depends on whether the commission reverses itself again next month.


Shortly after Thursday’s vote, the bond commission indicated it might walk back those promises and dozens of others in October. Republicans on the commission want to take a second vote on commitments to fund over 100 projects at that meeting. 

Both last month and this month, the commission voted to borrow money to immediately fund construction projects around the state — and promised to borrow more money in the future for those same projects. Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin and Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, questioned whether the bond commission should have made those promises about future funding. 

Allain, R-Franklin, said he wants the commission to focus on borrowing money for the legislature’s priority construction projects this year before voting on promises to spend more money in the future.

But if the bond commission doesn’t vote to commit to the future funding of projects, then those projects aren’t allowed — by state law — to move into the top priority category for construction funding next year. It would be a setback for them that could cause yearslong delays. 

Bishop said he was willing to reverse the bond commission votes on dozens of projects because Bishop believes the Legislature might change its collective mind about what it wants to fund next year anyway.

“We’re giving people a false sense of security,” he said of the promises for future construction money. “I can still take [those projects] out of the [state’s construction budget].”

The projects whose future funding might be delayed if the bond commission reverses its votes next month include “new” Mississippi River bridge planning, Superdome improvements, LSU library repairs, the raising and repairs of multiple levees, the deepening of multiple canals and the rebuilding of a women’s prison that was devastated by the 2016 flooding in Baton Rouge.


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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press.