'Important meeting' on I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge set for Aug. - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

'Important meeting' on I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge set for Aug. 3 in Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

For years we've heard about the need for a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge. There is a timeline, and an upcoming public meeting is part of the process of determining what will happen and when.

Though the discussion is usually about a new I-10 bridge, the proposed project includes improvements between I-10 and 210 interchanges. The bridge has safety issues because of how steep it is, congestion, no shoulders and short entrance ramps that don't meet today's design guidelines.  

The bridge was built in 1951 and has undergone major repairs over the years.  A state newsletter says by 2040 traffic levels will exceed the bridge's safe capacity of 37,000 vehicles per day.

The upcoming meeting is Aug. 3 at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

State Representative Mike Danahay says he hopes people will turn out for the meeting because a new bridge is needed.

"A new bridge is very important, especially for our area. When it comes to economic development, that is a major factor in what happens here in Southwest Louisiana. So I think it's imperative that we have a new bridge," he said.

Another man who has been working this issue, including an overpass for Westlake, is Hal McMillin. He hopes the masses will attend the meeting.

"As long as I can have a breath in my body, I won't let them say the I-10 bridge without saying the Westlake overpass. It's crucial that we have the number of cars that are going over the train tracks every day, and the I-10 bridge and the amount of traffic there, we can't keep that bottleneck. We've got to keep them together, and the Secretary of Transportation Shawn Wilson and I visited about this. He understands the plight of Southwest Louisiana; we need an overpass as well as a new I-10 bridge as quickly as possible," said McMillin.

One thing that has delayed progress over the years is underlying chemical contamination from the EDC - or ethylene dichloride - pipeline spill in 1994. No one wants construction to spread the contamination. Both McMillin and Danahay believe they can engineer around the spill.

"I think they'll be able to remediate whatever problems there are. DOTD will look at different designs if we have to, possibly span that area that's in question. Other than that, I think we can work through those problems," said Danahay.

"They’re going to make sure the environment is not compromised," said McMillin.

The upcoming meeting is to help make sure the project team addresses all the issues as they prepare the environmental impact statement required to move ahead. 

That meeting is from 5 to 8 p.m. next Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

To read the latest newsletter about the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Project click here. The newsletter also includes a current timeline that suggests the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision approval will be in Spring 2019. In a previous newsletter that projected approval date was Spring of 2016. For more on the history of the project click HERE.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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