Officials: I-10 Bridge groundbreaking possible in 2024

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:54 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - After years of talk about a new I-10 Bridge over the Calcasieu River, we finally have word that shovels could be in the dirt by 2024.

“Any reasonable man would concur that, just the nature of the conversation will argue now, not whether or not we’re going to build a bridge, but exactly how it’s going to be funded and whether or not there’s going to be tolls,” said U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R - Lafayette).

Rep. Higgins said he believes crews will break ground on the bridge next year.

Keith DuRousseau, chairman of the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Task Force, said a 2024 start date is possible, but not guaranteed.

“We all are hopeful that that date becomes a reality. Again, I would believe that that would be in the third or fourth quarter that we would see, you know, actually boots on the ground, maybe a little bit of an aggressive schedule, but hopefully it becomes reality,” said DuRousseau.

Rep. Higgins voted against the infrastructure bill that will provide funding to build the bridge.

“I opposed the infrastructure bill. Is it was $2 trillion and only about 6 percent of it was actual concrete and steel infrastructure. The rest of it was other stuff,” said Higgins.

“In November ‘17, we started out with $0, and to be with our bondable amount plus capital outlay to be over $1 billion is the biggest steps in history for this project,” said DuRousseau.

There is an issue of tolls and who would have to pay them. If the bridge was solely built by the government, the project would potentially move slower.

“DOTD would have to restructure everything that has been solicited now, because it’s been solicited as a P3, where there’s a concessionaire, basically a banker, and an engineering firm,” said DuRousseau. “And they would have to restructure the entire request for proposals, solicit for designers, so if we went another route, I would say it would take multiple years to get back to where we’re at currently.”

If there is a toll, it should not affect local residents.

“That would require a toll, but not necessarily require money out of the pockets of the five-parish area,” said DuRousseau. “If the numbers came in and they were acceptable, we could use the $40 million that we received from the tax revenue to offset the local toll.”

“We’ll figure this out. We’re going to build a bridge and and I think we’ll break ground in the next in the next 12, 18 months,” said Higgins.