Federal, State lawmakers look to fund construction of a new bridge
BATON ROUGE - The wheels might not be turning fast enough just yet on a drive to fix rundown roads and bridges, but they are rolling.
A bipartisan infrastructure plan has been introduced at the White House. It would shift $1 trillion toward the transportation improvements and could fund the construction of a new Mississippi River bridge.
"I can tell you that what we have is excellent legislation," U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said.
Cassidy, along with nine other lawmakers crafted the federal spending bill. If approved, the new bridge would be a top priority project in Louisiana, along with replacing the Calcasieu River bridge and expanding multiple interstates into 6 lanes.
"There's enough funding in this current bill to fund all of those projects. It may take a while, but we'll have the funding," Cassidy said.
There's a similar effort to fund the new bridge at the State Capitol. A bill sitting on the governor's desk would extend a temporary sales tax and use that money on the construction, among other projects.
The author of the bill, Rep. Tanner Magee, told WBRZ he believes Governor John Bel Edwards will sign it into law.
The federal legislation is facing more road blocks though. The money would partly come from repurposing COVID stimulus money, as well as adjusting the national gas tax rate to reflect inflation. Cassidy says the President will not accept that.
"If the administration doesn't like that particular issue then they come up with an alternative. But also be aware that when a mom is waiting to pick up her child at school and she has to commute an extra half-hour to get there, there is a time value for that mother," Cassidy said.
With the two bills, there is movement on upgrading infrastructure, but the projects are stuck in park until they're approved.
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