Keith DuRousseau, chairman of the Interstate 10 Bridge Task Force, said Tuesday that the infrastructure funding proposed in the state’s budget plan does not provide enough to help replace the outdated Interstate 10 River Bridge. -Calcasieu.
Gov. John Bel Edwards discussed his state budget plan on Monday. He’s offering $100 million for a new I-10 bridge here, $500 million for the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, $100 million for the I-49 Lafayette Connector, and $500 million for statewide water and sewer improvements.
DuRousseau said the task force is happy with the proposed money for the I-10 bridge in Calcasieu. However, the structure is very different from the Mississippi River Bridge.
“We understand there are two needs, but the Mississippi River Bridge is a solid structure suffering from congestion and growth,” DuRousseau said. “The Calcasieu River Bridge is outdated and in desperate need of replacement. We just wish (Edwards) focused more funding on the I-10 bridge and the recovery of southwest Louisiana.
DuRousseau mentioned an article in the Advocate on Monday that referenced Edwards calling the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge Louisiana’s greatest infrastructure need.
“We do not underestimate any project
See BRIDGE, A5 Continuation of A2
needs in the state; we just need to prioritize them as a life safety issue and a commitment to protect the citizens of Louisiana,” DuRousseau said.
Shawn Wilson, secretary of the state Department of Transportation and Development, said in a recorded message at the January 13 House banquet in Lake Charles that replacing the I-10 bridge is expected to cost more than $860 million. He said $162 million has already been set aside for the effort. The state will spend about $150 million in 2023 and 2024 in vehicle sales taxes to the public, with the I-10 bridge project expected to get 75% of that amount.
Wilson added that tolls are being considered as a financing option for the replacement of the bridge, but he did not specify what that amount might be. DuRousseau said the task force is working closely with the state’s legislative delegation to review all funding options to reduce or eliminate tolls for local drivers.
“We want to avoid a burden on the residents of Calcasieu Parish and surrounding parishes that rely on the I-10 bridge,” DuRousseau said. “Our pursuit will not stop until this is resolved.”
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden mentioned the I-10-Calcasieu River Bridge and his visit to Lake Charles last May when discussing the Build Back Better infrastructure plan, which includes $40 billion. dollars for bridge improvements.
Details on how much money could be set aside for the new I-10 bridge have not been released.