A new bridge over the Mississippi River could be on the horizon
BATON ROUGE - A new bridge over the Mississippi River could become a reality for residents and commuters in the Baton Rouge region.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law last week that created the Capital Area Road and Bridge District. The new taxing district includes East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville and Livingston parishes. Its purpose is to find a way to fund a new bridge.
WBRZ sources say private investors are willing to front more than a billion dollars, and profit eventually from tolls collected.
Senator Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, sponsored the bill. His district includes parts of several of the affected parishes.
"Everybody knows the deal with the traffic here in the region, and that this is ten years past due already," Ward said.
Voters will have to decide whether they want to help pay for the bridge.
For some, the possibility of a less frustrating commute is enough to garner support.
"Whatever can get me through quicker I'll vote for it," said East Baton Rouge resident Gilbert Hawkins.
Ward said he sees a way to move forward with the project even if some of the affected parishes sour on the plan.
"There is a mechanism in place where if one parish would decide they didn't want to participate, they could opt out of the region. But for all practical purposes, the best way for this to get done is if all five parishes remain involved," Ward said.
Voters could see proposals on their ballots as early as next spring.