BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Have you noticed the TV ads promoting a new bridge across the Mississippi River? They’re sponsored by the New Bridge PAC (political action committee) created by state Senator Rick Ward.
“Even when the Sunshine Bridge is working, our traffic problems are causing chaos on a daily basis,” Ward said.
The Port Allen Senator sponsored legislation passed this year that allows a five-parish coalition to build a third bridge in or near Iberville parish – without waiting for the state.
“We're just trying to make people aware that something is coming that will give them the ability to choose whether or not we want to try and address our own traffic problems as a region,” Ward explained.
A proposal could be on your ballot as soon as the spring, but the big question is how much will you be willing to pay. It could mean a small tax increase or tolls, along with private funds.
“The opportunity for a public-private partnership is there in a way that it's never been there before, and so we want to take full advantage of that opportunity and try and make it work,” Ward said.
The New Bridge PAC will survey the public and collect data about what exactly voters would support. It will also try to drum up support from private companies.
The Capital Area Road and Bridge District plans to meet for the first time next month. The authority created out of Ward’s legislation is made up of parish presidents from West Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston and Iberville, along with the DOTD secretary, and the governor’s appointee Mike Wampold.
If all goes according to plan, Ward said a new bridge could become reality in 7 – 10 years.