Search for potential sites for new Mississippi River Bridge down to 10; Public meetings set to start late April
Capital Area residents invited to learn more about potential bridge sites
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Capital Area Road and Bridge District narrowed the list down to 10 potential sites for a new Mississippi River Bridge on Monday, March 28. Meanwhile, parish presidents are pleading with lawmakers to approve the governor’s proposal of $500 million for the new bridge.
Six open house-style public meetings will be held in April and May for community members to learn about current possible bridge placements and to share their input about them.
As two guys fished along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, traffic was moving slowly during rush hour, going across the new Mississippi River Bridge.
“The key is having that funding, having that signed environmental document, and we’ll be good to go,” said Kara Moree, Project Manager for Atlas Technical Consultants.
The Capital Area Road and Bridge District which is made up of leaders from the state and area parishes narrowed down the list of potential sites for a new bridge.
“The future for this region is very dependent upon getting a bridge in this area. And I think it is very important that we continue to follow the process, and yet face the reality, that hopefully, we’re going to have a bridge, and we will have it funded, and we will get through this, and it will be built,” said J.H. Campbell Jr., Capital Area Road, and Bridge District chair.
Two of the potential sites are in West Baton Rouge, 7 are in Iberville Parish, and one is in Ascension Parish.
“There’s no question we need another bridge. I don’t want anyone to think we don’t want it. We do need another bridge. Where that location is, depends on all the other improvements that may go along beside this crossing, and where that needs to go, certainly could be a plus, or be minus from anybody’s standpoint. So I just wanted to get my point across, and again I don’t want anybody to say, oh East Baton Rouge Parish doesn’t want the bridge, no. I just want the public to have their input, I think that is imperative, that’s who we answer to, and to me, I want to hear from them before we move forward, regardless of the situation,” said Fred Raiford, EBR Director of Transportation and Drainage.
“Once you narrow the points to where this will be, we will be in a better position to start to calculate those costs,” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, Louisiana DOTD’s Secretary.
But money is becoming a bigger issue than expected.
Some lawmakers from outside the Capital area, are reportedly pushing back after the governor proposed dedicating $500 million to the project.
“I really think that we have a good opportunity to get these dollars to us, but it’s going to take a lot of effort. But I think when session winds down, we’ll be in a good place as far as that’s concerned,” said State Senator Rick Ward III (R), District 17.
Community meetings have already been set, so people can weigh in as the board narrows down the list to three final sites.
The board hopes those sites will be chosen by the end of May before the session ends.
“If we don’t have anything by then, I think we’re going to have a hard time keeping this money,” said Riley Berthelot Jr., West Baton Rouge Parish President.
“This is big, big, big, and hopefully we can see the fruits of all our hard work if we ever get to drive across this if a decision is made,” said J. Mitchell Ourso Jr., Iberville Parish President.
Meetings are scheduled as follows:
- East Baton Rouge Parish - Monday, April 25 from 5-7 p.m. at Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge
- Iberville Parish, East Bank - Tuesday, April 26 from 5-7 p.m. at St. Gabriel Community Center, 11400 Gordon Simon Leblanc Dr., St. Gabriel
- West Baton Rouge Parish - Wednesday, April 27 from 5-7 p.m. at Addis Community Center, 7250 LA-1, Addis;
- Ascension Parish, West Bank - Thursday, April 28 from 5-7 p.m. at Donaldsonville High School Gym, 100 Tiger Dr., Donaldsonville
- Ascension Parish, East Bank - Monday, May 2 from 5-7 p.m. at Lamar Dixon Expo Center Banquet Hall, 9039 S. St, Landry Ave., Gonzales
- Iberville Parish, West Bank - Carl F. Grant Civic Center, 24700 J Gerald Berret Blvd., Plaquemine.
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