What's next for the I-10 Bridge?

by Brandon Richards

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Local and state officials have been working on plans to replace the aging and structurally deficient Calcasieu River Bridge on Interstate 10. The 57-year-old bridge has long been declared structurally deficient. However, it remains in good enough condition to accommodate the 50,000 cars that travel on it every day.

The current plans, which have not yet been finalized, call for a new bridge to be built just north of the current structure. Ballpark estimates put the cost of replacing the new bridge at $450 million. Most of that money would have to come from the federal government, most-likely funded through a federal highway transportation bill.

But before local and state officials present plans to Congress, they have to make sure they're in agreement amongst themselves. Earlier this year, the city of Lake Charles wanted the new bridge to 90 feet tall. However, that plan was ultimately shot down, and the current plan calls for the new bridge to be built 73 feet tall.

With that issue out of the way, officials must now grapple with environmental issues at the proposed location for the new bridge.

"There is some contamination along the new route," Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said. "The DODT is trying to figure what to do from an engineering standpoint in order to build around the contamination without making it worse."

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Hal McMillin met with transportation officials last week and says the environmental concern should be cleared up soon.

Once local and state officials finalize a plan, they will present it to Louisiana's congressional delegation in hopes of receiving federal dollars to fund the new bridge, which could cost more than $400 million.