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Parish leaders pushing state lawmakers to set aside $500 million for new bridge

4 months 3 weeks 5 days ago Thursday, March 24 2022 Mar 24, 2022 March 24, 2022 7:11 PM March 24, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

PORT ALLEN - Two parish presidents are working to keep $500 million in Gov. John Bel Edwards's proposed budget to kick off construction on a new Mississippi River bridge.

"It's not what the bridge can do for you, it's what you can do for the bridge." That's the message West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley "Peewee" Berthelot is sending to state lawmakers.

"LA 1 is backed up, the bridge is backed up," Berthelot said. "The old bridge is starting to back up these days."

Berthelot and Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso are concerned that state lawmakers may not approve the $500 million for the new bridge.

"This is a major ordeal for the state of Louisiana," Ourso said. "Everybody's frustrated, and it's for the betterment of our state."

The parish presidents are worried because some state lawmakers have voiced concerns about setting aside $500 million for a project that could take years — possibly a decade — to start construction.

The total cost of the bridge is currently estimated at $2 billion.

The leaders say the committee overseeing the new bridge project needs to decide soon on final locations in order to convince lawmakers that the project is moving ahead.

"If we wait any longer, this could be a $3 billion bridge, and then it's getting to be where it's almost out of reach," Berthelot said.

Members of the Capital Area Road and Bridge District — the group overseeing the new bridge project — will meet on Monday, and they could wind down the locations to ten or fewer options.

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