BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The recently created Capital Area Road and Bridge District (CARB-D) is officially looking for a firm to conduct final studies the federal government requires for construction to begin on a new bridge.
The district, charged with finding new and creative ways to fund a third Mississippi River crossing, put out a request for qualifications the week of July 15. The legislature awarded CARB-D with $5 million in state surplus it will use to complete the work.
It’s the first time the state will put money toward a new bridge since it commissioned a study for a loop around Baton Rouge, meaning this is as close as Baton Rouge has been to building a third crossing.
“This is the most significant thing we can do right now, even if we had the funding in place already” Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, said. Ward established CARB-D in 2018.
The federal government will not allow construction without the research, which will include data about things like environmental impact. It’s not a study about whether or not Baton Rouge needs a new bridge. Prior studies stopped short of gathering the information the federal government needs when it became clear the projects they were linked to, like the loop, were not viable.
“Every time we take tangible steps, every time we move forward and do something where people can see progress, it builds momentum and adds credibility to the project,” Ward said.
Once the research is complete, the state will know where to put the bridge and when it might happen. It still has to find a mechanism to pay for the project, which will be the largest hurdle that must be cleared before Baton Rouge commuters have a third option to get across the father of waters.