LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Is it possible construction for a new I-10 bridge could begin in 2021? Representative Clay Higgins says it is.
Both he and George Swift, a member of the I-10 Bridge Task Force, said it can be done.
“If everybody works together on the local, federal and state level, it can be done," Swift said.
However, there are loose ends that need to be tied at each level — like providing an environmental impact study and a design plan.
“Actual architecture of the new bridge. The precise footprint, height, width — everything. The on ramps, off ramps, connections to surface streets. All of that needs to be finalized and completed," Higgins said.
One hurdle many have wondered about is contaminated soil under the bridge, which Higgins said should be easily avoidable if the new bridge is built shorter than it is now.
“It greatly decreases the engineering complexities and greatly decreases the weight of the bridge. Therefore, the pilings don’t have to go as deep into the soil and therefore you eliminate any kind of potential threat to the aquifer and greatly decrease any sort of potential interaction having to deal with, in a construction site, contaminated soil," Higgins said.
Then comes funding the $600 million bridge.
“Then we arrange for federal funding. In the meantime, the local and state level have to determine how exactly they’re going to fund their part," Higgins said.
Swift said Governor John Bel Edwards has already been helpful.
“We’re pleased that Governor John Bel Edwards committed $85 million in the upcoming capital outlay budgets for the state. Traditionally, that would be 10% of the cost born by the local governments and 90% by the federal government," Swift said.
Overall, Swift said as of now they’re on the right track to possibly break ground 2021.