LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A newly formed task force will focus on bringing to fruition a new I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River.
A new bridge has long been needed but for costs and other reasons has not been built.
There is no immediate plan for a new bridge.
The task force, comprised of 16 local business leaders, is expected to examine best practices, current infrastructure and financial options at the federal level, said George Swift, president and CEO of the Chamber SWLA. The task force is not part of a government organization, but will present recommendations to local and state officials. He says the need for a new bridge is increasingly urgent.
"Right now we have $109 billion in projects which are leading the nation. And so we want to help America become energy independent but we've got to have infrastructure to do that and so the replacement of the I-10 Bridge is vital to America's commerce and energy sector," said Swift..
A new bridge will cost between $700 million and $1 billion, Swift said.
Swift said that he has heard it could be a seven to eight-year project, but needs to happen sooner. If the project started now, he believes it could be completed within five to six years.
Swift said the current bridge and the congestion it causes is impeding growth to the area.
"We don't think we can wait that long because of the increased traffic that is coming and because of all the projects that are underway," he said.
"We are probably one of the weak links in the I-10 corridor and we want to get that fixed."
The task force was approved by the Chamber of SWLA's board of directors. Keith DuRousseau is the chairman.
"Since starting our work late last year our task force has been investigating infrastructure funding within the traditional and private means, also our team's been investigating other infrastructure projects in other areas along with their funding mechanisms both in state and round the nation," he said.
He says they need to let the nation know the importance of the new bridge.