New Mississippi River bridge could come sooner than you expect

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The hopes of a new Mississippi River bridge could soon become a reality with financial assistance from the federal government and Gov. John Bel Edwards gave his take on Wednesday, June 30, about the possibility.

The money for the new bridge would come from President Biden’s infrastructure plan. It’s the largest infrastructure package in United States history and according to the governor, if debates on Capitol Hill go smoothly, we could be seeing construction begin sooner than we expect.

“There is no more important infrastructure project for the state than a new bridge in Baton Rouge south of what we call the ‘New Bridge,’ which is as old as I am, by the way,” said Edwards.

Right now, money to improve roads and bridges across Louisiana is sitting on Capitol Hill waiting to be voted on. That’s why we’re still waiting to learn how soon we could get that funding and put it to good use.

“And now, they are trying to determine whether there’s support for that not just in the Senate but in the House of Representatives as well to move that forward,” added the governor.

But we’re also waiting for state officials to figure out where they want to actually put the new bridge.

“Until we can say exactly where the bridge will go, you can’t start to acquire right away and you don’t know exactly how much it’s going to cost,” the governor continued.

Edwards also said the state is moving forward to develop whatever interest there may be within the private sector and that public funds are already being put towards building the new bridge to be able to move the project forward as soon as possible. The project’s price tag at the moment sits at about $2 billion.

“Knowing that we have to tie it in on the west side of I-10 and on the east side of the bridge in Baton Rouge to I-10 and to I-12 in order to get the traffic density that we need to make that a viable project,” said Edwards.

Part of the money from the infrastructure plan heading to Louisiana will go to the development and construction of a new Mississippi River bridge.

“So, I really like our chances and I’m optimistic that we have a formula together. We have enough of the funding in place that we’re going to be able to move forward. But it would be really great if the infrastructure package would get passed and just add some additional funding to that project,” Edwards continued.

Once the development of the new bridge begins, it’s expected to create more jobs and give the state something that many have wanted for quite some time. If the infrastructure plan is passed and money is sent to the state, there would likely be a call for a special session to decide how that money will be spent and who will be spending it.

The two current bridges that cross the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge are the Horace Wilkinson Bridge on I-10 and the Huey P. Long on US 190. The Horace Wilkinson opened on April 10, 1968, and the Huey P. Long opened way back in August 1940. There is also a Huey P. Long Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish. It opened on December 16, 1935.

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