New Mississippi River bridge location still undecided but will have tolls, DOTD says
BATON ROUGE - Traffic is an everyday headache for the residents of Baton Rouge. Several projects are being done by DOTD to help solve the city's congested roadways, including a new Mississippi River Bridge.
"We have a three-pronged approach for dealing with traffic in Baton Rouge. One of which is to widen I-10 through town. Second is a south bridge and third is a north bypass. We're focused on the I-10 widening project and the south bridge once those are underway we'll look into the north bypass," DOTD Secretary Eric Kalivoda said.
The bridge comes with a massive price tag of $1.5 billion dollars. So far the project has received $300 million in state budget funding. However, the budget alone will not cover the cost of the bridge.
"It will be a toll bridge and those tolls are expected to generate from $250-300 million, so we do have a fair amount of money. It's not enough to do the whole thing but it's a good starting point," Kalivoda said.
The project has been narrowed down to three potential sites for the bridge and is currently in the environmental impact phase to determine which site is the safest and most effective route.
"These have to go through extensive environmental evaluation before narrowing it down to what's called the preferred alternative. Within the next year, we'll have a preferred alternative identified and then we can go ahead and complete the environmental process and move on to implementation," Kalivoda said.
The environmental impact of one of the proposed sites is drawing concern from residents of Iberville Parish like Laura Comeaux. She says that one of the sites would put her cypress forest at risk.
"I'm hoping that when they get boots on the ground and really do the environmental review, that they see this forest for themselves and decide to eliminate it as one of the three options and to consider the public's opinion and the private landowner as highly as they do the industry," Comeaux said.
A location for the bridge is expected to be decided on by the summer of 2024.
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