April 25, 2019
I-10 Bridge Task Force Reports Successful Meetings with Gubernatorial Candidates & Progress on Bridge Plans
The Chamber SWLA’s I-10 Bridge Task Force has presented their research and recommendations to the two gubernatorial candidates challenging Governor John Bel Edwards in the upcoming October 12 election. Individual meetings were held with Eddie Rispone and Congressman Ralph Abraham in March and April, respectively. Both candidates expressed their shared frustration with the lack of progress and funding for a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge and pledged their support for expediting the project if elected.
“The condition of the I-10 bridge is both dangerous and an economic detriment. The dedicated members of the Task Force put forth a conscientious plan to address a problem which affects both the region and the state,” commented Rispone after his March meeting with the Task Force. “It’s beyond time to address this situation and our $14 billion dollar infrastructure backlog. When you face an obstacle in business you attack it. I will do the same as Governor. We cannot afford to wait.”
Congressman Abraham met with the Task Force last week and pledged to make a public statement regarding the urgent need for a replacement I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge during the current congressional session in Washington D.C. “This group has done the work needed to provide the plan and funding sources for a new bridge. There is no reason for continued delay. It’s time to bring the hammer down and get this bridge, which is vital to the economy of the region, built.”
The report from the I-10 Bridge Task Force was released in January and has succeeded in refocusing attention on the promised, long-overdue replacement bridge. The recommendations provide the state with a well-researched, detailed action plan to tackle the most critical interstate bridge project in Louisiana within two to three years without incurring any debt or requiring any tax revenue. “The Southwest Louisiana economy is the strongest in the nation, and to risk it due to a bridge closure is short-sighted,” said Keith DuRousseau, chair of the I-10 Bridge Task Force. “We cannot delay any longer. The time is now to make this new bridge a reality and secure the continued growth and stability of our region.”
Since the release of the Task Force’s recommendations, multiple meetings and conversations with LA DOTD and the Governor have taken place and some areas of common ground have been found, although major differences regarding the timeframe and funding remain. The Task Force has made over 25 presentations to area business and civic groups to discuss their recommendations and get public input.
Later today, LA DOTD will present a new alternative route for Westlake access from the new bridge, the same one included in the Task Force’s recommendations. LA DOTD had originally planned to start these public meetings later this year. The Task Force applauds the agency for changing that timeframe. Next week, the Task Force will be hosting LA DOTD and a team of nationwide experts to consider public private partnership models.