The bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge is a traffic bottleneck, and Louisiana’s congressional delegation has long wanted a new bridge to be included in a federal infrastructure package. “Views of the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge” by Billy Metcalf Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Louisiana residents will have a chance to review 10 proposed locations for a new bridge over the Mississippi River in the Baton Rouge area. The consultant group the state has hired for the project told a local committee Monday afternoon they will use public feedback to narrow that list to three by the end of May.
The committee faces significant pressure to pick the bridge’s location before the state budget is finalized in June. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and other legislative leaders said they would only support Gov John Bel Edwards to put $500 million toward a new Mississippi River bridge “if we have a target spot for it.”
“[The bridge project] should be farther along in the process than it is,” Schexnayder said earlier this month.
Kara Moree, project manager for Atlas Technical Consultants, said her company has been working around the clock – meeting with stakeholders, river pilots, levee districts and engineers – to narrow the location list to 10.
“Would anybody buy a home without asking any sorts of questions?” Moree said. “(The) same kind of applies here. The state’s going to be making a very large investment in the bridge, and they’re trying to make sure they’re doing their due diligence, asking all the right questions to make sure we put it in the best spot possible.”
Seven of the 10 locations are in Iberville Parish, two are in East Baton Rouge Parish and one is in Ascension Parish, Moree told the committee. The construction cost of the options range from $1.29 billion to $1.9 billion, she said.
The consultant group could narrow down the list to three today “if we needed to,” but public input has to be obtained before they can move forward, Moree said.
Six public meetings have been tentatively scheduled from April 25 to May 3, but committee members asked Moree if those meetings can be moved up to speed up the selection timeline.
“If we don’t have anything by (the end of the legislative session), I think we’re going to have a hard time keeping all this money.” West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley Berthelot, chair of the committee, said.
“We can shoot to try to do that,” Moree said.
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