Louisiana’s Notorious Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles Replacement Bill Fails
The plan to replace or fix the Calcasieu River Bridge will not be moving forward any time soon. Last week in the Louisiana Legislature, the Joint Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted down the bill 8-6. The vote was along party lines with Republicans voting against it while the Democrats want to push for the construction.
The plan was estimated to cost for the project was 2.1 billion dollars, but it was the tolls, specifically to truckers that had people grumbling about it. Truckers were concerned about the $12.50 charge per crossing that would put a financial strain on their companies.
Renee Amar, Director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association told NOLA.com,
“The truckers in the state of Louisiana are going to be the ones to foot the bill for this bridge.”
Louisiana’s Transportation Secretary Eric Kalivoda told NOLA.com he believes the incoming Jeff Landry Administration will have their work cutout for them,
“The incoming (governor’s) administration will be set up for failure. There will be a public expectation on the new administration and the new Legislature to deliver a toll-free bridge.”
Concerns with the bridge started late last century. The Federal Highway Administration and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development suggested replacing the bridge in 1999. The Calcasieu River Bridge is currently listed as a “dangerous bridge”, ranked as the 7th in the nation as needing to be replaced.
Visiting the area in May 2019, President Trump made a campaign promise to replace the bridge.
"So the I-10 bridge and I say this and I give you this commitment and I can’t play with these three: Steve, John, Bill, everybody sitting here...If we win this election, which is just sixteen months away, we’re giving you a brand new I-10 bridge.”
State Senator Mark Abraham from Lake Charles still contends the bridge construction will move forward sooner rather than later.
“I’m telling the citizens of our area, we’re going to have a bridge. We’re not going to delay. It’s not going to be decades and decades before we get a new bridge."