By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |

With more than a hundred properties left to expropriate, the state has spent more than two-thirds of its $75 million budget to acquire private property for the construction of the $1.2 billion medical center planned to replace Charity Hospital.

The $55 million spent so far has paid for acquisition of 120 properties – half of the 240 properties within the Louisiana State University hospital’s 37-acre site, said Thomas Rish, a senior project manager with the state’s Office of Facility Planning and Control.  The site is bounded by Canal Street, South Claiborne Avenue, Tulane Avenue and South Galvez Street.

In a presentation Monday before the City Council’s Public Works Committee, Rish said he expected the remaining $20 million to be tapped out in completing the expropriation process.

As Rish was assuring New Orleans residents and council members that the state had spending under control, legislators in Baton Rouge voted to strip $900 million in borrowing authority for the teaching hospital. Initially, state facilities director Jerry Jones told lawmakers that stripping the borrowing power could delay the hospital for a year or more. But by the end of the day, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration had revised Jones’ assertion, telling reporters and lawmakers that the state doesn’t have to go through the annual capital outlay bill to fund the project. The state did not explain where it plans to get the missing money.