Gov. calls Mississippi River Bridge priority in state budget, I-10 bridge still needs funding

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 10:02 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The state’s House of Representatives last week sent the senate its version of the state budget.

Governor Jon Bel Edwards wants more money in the budget to go towards building a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.

What does this mean for the Calcasieu River Bridge?

House Bill Number 1 passed with a 94 to 4 vote, but Governor Edwards said he is disappointed by the lack of funding secured for the Mississippi River Bridge.

“There are too many commonsense reasons, compelling reasons, why this needs to be done, and why it needs to be done now,” Governor Edwards said.

Originally, Governor Edwards proposed $500 million to be put towards the bridge, citing record amounts of funding to invest in infrastructure.

“If we don’t do it now, it is hard to see that we will be here next year with an opportunity to do it,” Governor Edwards said.

Governor Edwards called it his priority, but only $100 million was set aside for the Calcasieu River Bridge – a project that has been a hot topic for state leaders, as well as the president.

“It’s a perfect example how we’ve neglected as a nation to invest in the future of our economy, and the future of our people,” President Joe Biden said.

Locals who frequent the bridge call it a traffic hazard and an eye sore.

“It seems like every time it rains, there are plenty of wrecks,” Lionell Celestine said.

“We’ve advocated constantly for funds from the federal government,” Keith DuRousseau, chairman of the I-10 Taskforce said. “We’ve advocated funds from the state and local governments also.”

The I-10 bridge is estimated to cost around $1 billion, but roughly $300 million is secured according to local officials. The possibility of tolls remain on the table in order to fund the project.

“About this time next year, we should have the request for proposals answered, the bids come in,” George Swift, president and CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance said in a previous interview. “Hopefully, they will award the bids by the end of 2023.”

The house has sent the budget to the senate where it could face more changes.

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