DOTD holds annual public hearing

DOTD holds annual public hearing

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - That economic boom coming to Southwest Louisiana that you've heard so much about will bring jobs and a lot more traffic.

That's why legislators, mayors and other community leaders attended Thursday's DOTD public hearing.

The meeting gave a preliminary outlook on highway programs for the upcoming fiscal year.

But it's also held to get public input. And Thursday, several people addressed road projects in relation to economic development.

Almost $700 million is slated for road construction projects in fiscal year 2014-2015. However, "federal monies are on the decline. We have stopped receiving earmarks," said House Transportation Committee Chair, Karen St. Germain.

Germain said they have to get creative when looking for funding, "We're trying to get public private partnerships going for the major projects such as bridges and highways. We have to put our thinking caps back on and bring our monies back up to par to where they used to be."

Testifiers at the DOTD public hearing said they know that tough decisions have to be made when prioritizing road construction projects, but some think the economic boom should make that decision easier.

"People that drive in from Jefferson Davis Parish, Allen Parish, Beauregard and Cameron to work at these jobs need a way to get here to help this economic boost that we're fixing to have in our area," said Sulphur Mayor Chris Duncan.

And one of the main concerns addressed Thursday was the I-10 bridge.

"If we can fast track Cove Lane, why can't we fast track this I-10 bridge right now? Granted, Cove Lane had some private money involved in it but it shows that the process can be sped up with the state on all these road projects," said Duncan.

"With economic growth and development is going to come traffic congestion and it will be unlike anything we've ever experienced," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

But at a $500 million price tag, Roach said, "those are the types of projects probably that deserve priority within the federal system."

But without funding, it means more waiting.

Although, Germain said input given Thursday will be considered, "I can talk to your fellow legislators any day, but to hear from your own public, we learn so much."

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The following information is from DOTD:

I-10 Eastbound will be closed to all traffic at Exit 44 (Kinder exit onto U.S. 165, just east of Iowa) beginning Saturday, November 2, at 4 a.m. until Wednesday, November 6, at 4 a.m., weather permitting. This closure is necessary for crews to perform bridge repair work.

The detour for motorists will consist of the following routes:

I-10 Eastbound traffic:

Primary detour:  Exit 44 to U.S. 165 South then east onto La. 3258 then onto I-10 Eastbound via temporary ramp (constructed by DOTD) approximately 1 ¼ miles east of U.S. 165.

Secondary detour (as needed):  Exit 44 to U.S. 165, then north 3.5 miles to La. 101, then east on La. 101 for 4.8 miles to I-10.

To avoid delays at Exit 44, suggested detours include:

For motorists coming from Texas on I-10 eastbound, take La. 12 and continue east on U.S. 190.

La. 12 may be accessed from I-10 at Exit 4 (Toomey), then north on La. 109, continue driving for 12 miles to La. 12 (Starks).

U.S. 190 may be accessed from I-10 at Exit 33 (Lake Charles), proceed north on U.S. 171, continue driving 19 miles to U.S. 190 (Ragley).

I-10 eastbound traffic can detour around the closure area by exiting onto U.S. 90 (Exit 31B) and then traveling east on U.S. 90 to La. 101 in Lacassine before turning left along La. 101 to reconnect with I-10.