LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPEL News) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has released new information about the plan for a new bridge over the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles - a project that could take up to seven years.

That information includes artist renderings proposals for tolls.

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Artist rendering of the proposed bridge redesign over the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles.
Credit: LADOTD

The update comes from Gov. John Bel Edwards and LADOTD Secretary Eric Kalivoda. During the Tuesday morning update, they announced that the state "has selected Calcasieu Bridge Partners (CBP) for negotiations for the $2.1 billion Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge public-private partnership project."

The project is a 5.5-mile corridor going from near Ryan Street in Lake Charles to the I-210 and I-10 interchange on the west side of Lake Charles.
In addition to a new bridge and approaches, the project includes the interstate roadways and ramps, the I-10 service roads, and interchanges at PPG Drive, Sampson Street, and North Lakeshore/Ryan Street that connect the interstate to state roads and local streets. Sampson Street will be elevated over the railroad tracks to eliminate blockages from trains.
Construction could start as early as 2024 and is anticipated to last approximately seven years. The new bridge will be lower and therefore not as steep, have more lanes, full shoulders and roadway lighting.

There are several aspects of the plan that will fundamentally change the approach to Lake Charles for those coming west via I-10. Part of the proposal is also to shift part of Sampson Street, which DOTD says "will reduce the anticipated closure of Sampson Street from 18 months to fewer than nine months."

Artist rendering of the proposed bridge redesign over the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles.
Credit: LADOTD

Tolls in Lake Charles

Another part of the proposal also calls for tolls on the new bridge.

The amount a driver would have to pay in tolls largely depends on the vehicle. Reduced rate toll tags will also be made available for some.

While some may be concerned about the additions of tolls to the bridge, they have a chance to let their concerns be heard in a public setting. Will be setting dates for public meetings in the community to give citizens a chance to take part in the process.

The proposed tolls are based on current the Consumer Price Index but are subject to change as CPI (inflation) does.

Proposed tolls for the Calcasieu River bridge after its rebuild in Lake Charles.
Credit: LADOTD

Costs and Funding

CBP will manage and oversee the construction project, LADOTD explained, along with the maintenance and operations of the new bridge. The proposed tolls are lower than you might expect, but that is due to CBP partnering with several groups to raise about $800 million for the project.

The breakdown of that, according to LADOTD:

  • $150 million federal discretionary grant awarded to DOTD for the project
  • $240 million in Motor Vehicle Sales Tax fund transfers
  • $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds
  • $85 million in state general obligation bonds
  • $75 million from Highway Priority Program federal funds
  • $100 million from state general fund

A Necessary Rebuild

The current Calcasieu River bridge is considered unsafe and is frequently criticized by locals and visitors alike. The state has been moving to start the project in recent years, but it wasn't until this year at the state had fully secured the money necessary for such a project.

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