Plans to replace I-10 bridge hit a snag

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Plans to replace the aging I-10 Bridge between Lake Charles and Westlake have hit a bit of a roadblock.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation said before funding and construction can go forward, an environmental review must first be conducted.

In 1994, 1.6 million pounds of ethylene dichloride from a pipeline leaked into the ground right near the bridge.

The environmental review could last two years, but DOTD officials say it's essential.

"To see how the spill is migrating; to see where it is; to see how it's going to affect our construction projects," said Bobby Hennigan, DOTD District 7 Administrator.

While the environmental review is going on, local, state and federal officials will work to make sure funding for the project is all lined up.

Once it's built, the new bridge will stand 73 feet tall and would include the much-talked about Westlake overpass, which will allow residents who commute everyday to Lake Charles to get to their destination faster.

"So we don't have to be waiting on trains," said Calcasieu Police Juror Hal Mcmillan. "[There are] 30 trains a day that come through [the Westlake Corridor]. It's a real frustration."

The project is estimated to cost $400 million.

The I-10 Bridge, also known as the Calcasieu River Bridge, was constructed in 1952. Though it's considered structurally deficient, transportation officials say it's still safe to drive on.

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