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Mississippi River bridge project hits roadblock after lawmakers vote to divert money

Funding for a new Mississippi River Bridge hit a roadblock Monday after a decision from The House Appropriations Committee.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Funding for a new Mississippi River Bridge hit a roadblock Monday, April 18, 2022, after a decision from The House Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers voted against a recommendation under House Bill 1 from Gov. John Bel Edwards to spend $500 million on a new Baton Rouge bridge. Instead, the Appropriations Committee agreed to put the money aside into an industrial fund until they can come to an agreement on how to spend the money.

“We set aside the money in the budget. $500 million of that could go to the bridge, it could go to connecting roads, or it could go to an overall infrastructure package,” said Rep. Tony Bacala.

The idea of spending that much money in one area has come under intense debate. Some lawmakers argued about the price tag, the timing, and if it could benefit people outside the Capital Region.

“I think that’s what you’re seeing right now. A debate around is one bridge in one place more important than the other 99% of the state,” said Rep. Michael Echols.

Rep. Rick Edmonds argued that a new bridge in Baton Rouge would make sense for everyone in the state due to the economic impact.

“We’re talking about trillions of dollars that makes its way across I-10. They all benefit,” said Edmonds.

Rep. Michael Echols said he would like to see the bridge happen, but not at the expense of other projects.

“I think it’s a good idea to fix the bridge situation in Baton Rouge, but in North Louisiana we’ve got issues as well and we have to fix those too, and hopefully we can work together to solve it all at the same time,” said Echols.

The bill will be taken up by the full House Thursday before moving to the Senate.

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