DOTD needing more feedback from public about Miss. River bridge project
BATON ROUGE - Public comments on where a new Mississippi River bridge should go will close Saturday. As for discussions about how that bridge will be paid for, those talks are still going on at the Capitol.
As DOTD continues to make plans for the new bridge, lawmakers have to figure out a way to pay for it. That's not been an easy process.
"The governor has seen the importance of this project, listened to the public and allocated 500 million to advance this project, which is a great show of faith," DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallet said.
The house didn't agree with the Governor's proposed budget. Instead, members set aside $500 million that could go to the bridge or other projects. DOTD says it needs that money to get matching federal funds to make the bridge a reality.
On Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee will debate setting aside that $500 million for the bridge. DOTD says it's still moving along with the idea in the meantime.
"We're going with the environmental process as long as we can. Hopefully then we can get the funding, the additional funding, any funding to show the seriousness of this project, the need for this project, we can go to the FHA and get them to approve," Mallet said.
Mallet says the number of public comments shows the need.
"In the past, projects such as these do not receive a lot of public comment or political will. Those projects die," he said.
A major concern among some lawmakers is setting aside money for a bridge that could go in one of ten places in the capital region. DOTD says a decision is getting closer.
"We need to go through all of the comments and t o help us make the right decision," Mallet said.
DOTD says we should learn which three sites will be considered by the end of the month.