White House announces $150 million grant for I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge

Is the funding enough?
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 7:12 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s official - today President Biden announced a $150-million mega grant for the Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge.

Biden’s official announcement followed news from Louisiana lawmakers that the money was coming. But is it enough, and is there more available?

Only nine projects across the country were awarded mega grants for nationally significant infrastructure, and one of them is the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, which was built before the Interstate Highway System.

U.S. Transportation Undersecretary Carlos Monje said it was an extremely competitive process and that Louisiana is scoring some big victories. He’s from Metairie, but now works in Washington, D.C.

“So, we think this $150 million is what Louisiana needs to get this project up and running and over the finish line. It’s going to make a huge impact for the people who live in Lake Charles and everybody who runs along the I-10,” he said.

When the state applied for the grant, $600 million was requested. So, is more coming?

“Louisiana has applied for and will continue to get a cut of money from the feds,” said Monje - which is not to say it will be another mega grant.

“About 60 percent of our money goes out as a block to states, and they can choose how to spend that money. But what we’re talking about here is a subset of that - competitive grants that communities all across the country apply for, and then we select the ones that are most economically important for the country, that provide the greatest benefit.” said Monje.

He said the grant is not tied to it being a toll bridge, but that it may be needed to finance it.

“Louisiana will do the engineering, will do the specs, will do the contracts to get the workers going, and we just double check their work and make sure that the math adds up and the bridge isn’t going to fall into the ground,” Monje said.

Monje expects the mega grant projects to peak over 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Only a Hudson Yards project in New York and a new bridge between Ohio and Kentucky received larger mega grants than Calcasieu.

The I-10 Bridge is expected to cost about $1.5 billion, including parts of the highway leading to and from it.