LC mayor proposing incentive package to reduce time off I-210 bridge project

LC mayor proposing incentive package to reduce time off I-210 bridge project

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Mayor of Lake Charles is working on a plan which would involve using your tax dollars to speed up the I-210 bridge project.

It seems like a distant memory now, but it was just a month ago people across Southwest Louisiana were facing nightmare traffic when the I-10 bridge underwent repairs.

All that traffic got Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter thinking.

"What could we do locally to try an expedite this project," he said.

The I-210 bridge project is coming soon, so Hunter has created a plan.

"We came up with the idea that locally we could put together some money for an incentive package for whichever contractor is awarded that job," he said.

$750,000 would go to that contractor if they can finish the project two months ahead of schedule.

"$750,000 on a project that size is not peanuts so to the contractor that incentive may make the difference between them pushing their workers to get finished a little quicker or not," said Hunter.

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury has already approved to hand over $375,000 from the parish's gaming revenue district.

And just this week Lake Charles entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement allowing the city and local businesses to contribute money to the incentive package.

But when 7News talked to people in the community, the idea garnered mixed reviews.

"The people in authority have taken some studies to see how much money the average overrun on these kind of projects would cost, and that $750,000 figure comes in under that, so whatever we're saving as a tax payer is worth it," said resident Del Prudhomme.

"I feel like we already pay lot in taxes, and then for them to turn around and just...make that kind of decision without our approval.... I feel like that is the citizens approval," said resident Kasey McCaluley. "It's our money."

Hunter says he is hoping to get casinos and industry involved to pitch in private money for the package as well.

So far the city, police jury and those involved with the parish's revenue district are the only ones in on the plan. Hunter believes others will get involved so that the traffic problems expected will end quickly.

"I hope we do spend this money, because if we do spend this money it means that the project has been expedited, because it's about more than economics it's also about quality of life," he said.

Hunter says they came up with the total by offering $10,000 a day for the first month and $15,000 for the next month.

He says if the contractor awarded doesn't finish the project two months early they won't receive any of the money.

Hunter says he's also spoken with DOTD, and they believe the portion of the project where lanes will be shut down on the bridge would take 18 months. He is hoping the incentive package could get things down to 16 months.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.