10 sites remain for new Mississippi River Bridge; the three main options to be decided in May


BATON ROUGE — The list of potential locations for a new bridge over the Mississippi River was cut in half on Monday, with hopes that three final options would be chosen by the end of May.

“A thing [is] of course, what we got out there doesn’t work,” Fred Raiford, director of transportation and drainage for East Baton Rouge Parish, said Monday. “It doesn’t work, and it hasn’t for a long time.

Public hearings for the 10 options, all of which range from LA 1 to LA 30, will begin on April 25.

Of the remaining potential sites, one runs through Ascension Parish from Donaldsonville on the west side of the Mississippi River to Geismar on the east side.

Two locations remain in East Baton Rouge. Both would stretch from Addis to West Baton Rouge at LA 30, one near Innovation Park Drive, the other near Bluebonnet Boulevard.

Raiford, who represents East Baton Rouge on Capital Area Road and Bridge District, expressed some reservations about the two bridge options in his parish.

“I certainly have concerns about using our roads as a corridor to bring it to the freeway,” Raiford said at Monday’s deck meeting. “The two roads we referred to are EBR parish roads. I don’t want people coming off the bridge, coming to LA 30 and using Bluebonnet[Boulevard]as an exit to go to I-10. I’ve already had enough traffic problems in my parish

The other seven possibilities are in the parish of Iberville.

“I like to wake up at 5 a.m. and Channel 2 tells me the [Plaquemine] Ferry closed due to fog, ferry broke down,” Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso joked after Monday’s meeting. “You think we don’t need a new bridge? I think that answers the question.”

The price tags for the 10 bridge proposals, revealed on Monday, run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The lowest [price] being $1.2 billion, which is the southernmost alternative, and the highest ranging from $1.9 billion,” Kara Moree of Atlas Technical Consulting explained to parish leaders in the capital.

Last month, the DOTD estimated that connectors for a new bridge would cost around $800 million, pushing the entire project north of $2 billion.

At Monday’s meeting, some parish leaders expressed interest in advancing the public contribution portion of the project, citing concerns that some lawmakers could condemn Gov. John Bel’s proposed $500 million. Edwards for the bridge project.

“I know the legislature has to do what it has to do, but we need funding to be able to move this project forward,” Raiford lamented. “I think we’re closer than ever when it comes to finding a site and trying to make that happen as quickly as possible.”

Some lawmakers, expressing concern about setting aside that much money before a final location is chosen, said they needed to find out more about potential sites first.

“When in truth and in fact, we have this information readily available, now,” said Jay Campbell, who was appointed to the district by Edwards. “We follow a process.”

Moree plans to whittle the 10 list down to three by the end of May, shortly after the public briefings end.

Capital region leaders are calling for a united front once a final location has been chosen.

“It might not be the place I’m happiest with, it might not be the place anyone else is happiest with,” said Senator Rick Ward, a Port Allen Republican who drafted legislation to create the Capital Area Road and Bridge District. , noted. “For our region as a whole, I think it’s very important that as things get clearer we come to an agreement on this and that we all support it.”


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