Shared from the 1/4/2020 American Press eEdition

Task force looking for answers on I-10 bridge funding

The task force working to get a new Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge wants solid answers from state and federal officials on funding sources and when an environmental impact study will get done.

During a Friday meeting of Chennault’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, task force members Jim Rock and Denise Rau said Shawn Wilson, state Department of Transportation and Development secretary, could put the current bridge out of service if it is deemed unsafe.

“We’re trying to get ahead of that,” Rau said. “We’re not saying the bridge is going to fall.”

The next step, Rock said, is to finalize the environmental impact study (EIS) that has been ongoing since the early 2000s. Officials with HNTB Corp., a firm hired by DOTD to oversee the EIS process, said a new bridge could break ground no sooner than 2024, Rock said.

“Obviously, we think that’s too late,” Rock said. “We think that can be moved forward.”

Rau, who also sits on the Chennault board, said there is a need to specify a funding source before the environmental impact study can be done. Meanwhile, she said, the federal government can’t be pinned down on how much it will contribute to the project.

President Donald Trump promised a new I-10 bridge, if he’s re-elected, during a visit to Hackberry last May. Gov. John Bel Edwards has also pledged to set aside $85 million in the state’s upcoming capital outlay bill.

If the federal and state government come through with their shares of funding, there won’t be a need for tolls.
Jim Rock
Task Force member

If the federal and state government come through with their shares of the funding, there won’t be a need for tolls, Rock said.

Rock also told committee members that Chennault’s plans to build an airpark on the Mallard Cove Golf Course property depends on “a successful east and westbound route.”

Rock said the task force has hired an expert to comb through the thousands of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that are related to the state’s allocation of funds for the EIS.

Rau said residents can visit and send a letter to state or federal lawmakers, or donate to a nonprofit advocacy account.

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