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Toll proposal for new I-10 bridge in Lake Charles drawing protest

7 months 5 days 3 hours ago Tuesday, July 25 2023 Jul 25, 2023 July 25, 2023 1:50 PM July 25, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

LAKE CHARLES - Opposition is taking shape after the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development released its proposed toll schedule for a $2.1 billion bridge planned for the southwest part of the state.

The rates would skew heavily toward truckers driving I-10 across Lake Charles, and an association representing that industry is among those that have come out strong against the proposal.

"This bridge will be funded largely by silently taxing the truckers," the Louisiana Motor Transport Association said on Tuesday. "As an industry, we firmly agree that there needs to be a greater investment in our state's infrastructure, including the long-needed repairs to the Calcasieu River Bridge. What we disagree with is the burden of funding these projects being placed squarely on the backs of the trucking industry, that already contributes millions in taxes."

Under the proposal, a car or SUV registered locally would pay 25 cents to cross the bridge (toll tag required for that rate), while other passenger vehicles would be charged $2.50 if they have a toll tag and $3.75 if they don't.

Large trucks would pay $12.50 (toll tag rate) or $18.73 (non-tag).

Local officials weighed in on the matter on Friday, as well.

“The proposed I-10 Bridge project has been decades in the making and we firmly believe a new bridge is warranted and necessary," a coalition of area leaders said in a joint statement. "A vital economic and transportation conduit for the entire Gulf Coast, a new I-10 Bridge can provide for decades of sustainability for Southwest Louisiana.

"We are all united that we would prefer a scenario with no toll at all; however, we need to see this bridge built. If a toll for this bridge is unavoidable and necessary, the tolls suggested in this current proposal are higher than anticipated. We beseech the state legislature and Governor Edwards to allow for continued dialogue and negotiations with the chosen developer in order for us to find a path to tolls that are more reasonable.”

The project involves a reworking of 5.5 miles along the highway. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 and may last seven years for the entirety of the project.

A rendering of the proposed bridge is included below.

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