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Louisiana Motor Transport Association pushing back against proposed tolls for Calcasieu River bridge

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA) is voicing its strong opposition to toll rates proposed by LaDOTD for a new I-10 bridge in Lake Charles. 

"We fundamentally oppose the toll on the Calcasieu River bridge because we feel like it's a double tax on truckers, ultimately a double tax on citizens. We pay fuel taxes just like everyone else," Renee Amar, executive director for the LMTA, said. 

The tolls, which would go into effect once the new bridge is built, would cost local drivers around $0.25 and large truck drivers $12.50 if they have a toll tag. Amar says the toll would put truck drivers at a disadvantage and could have potentially devastating impacts on the cost of goods. 

"So if you're a medium-sized truck driver, you're probably looking at well over a million dollars that you're going to pay for that toll," Amar said. "And specifically in the state of Louisiana we rely on truckers even more, so that is just a hidden tax that increases all of the prices of our goods."

Rodney Mallett, a spokesperson for LaDOTD, says the state is contributing $800 million in funding for the bridge to minimize the toll cost for the public. The total cost of building the new bridge was estimated to be about $2.1 billion. 

"The infrastructure is starting to age and if you look across the country, more and more people are relying on alternate funding measures such as public-private partnerships, which means tolling," Mallett said. 

Mallett says the tolls that are proposed now are the lowest they will get, but the LMTA believes drivers should not have to pay anything more than a fuel tax.

"We want the government to fund the bridge like they promised us they would," Amar said. 

The Calcasieu River bridge in Lake Charles was built in 1952. At the time, the estimated life span of the bridge was 50 years. 

The bridge has been listed as "Structurally deficient" by the Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory (NBI) since 1992. 

You can view more information about the tolls from LaDOTD here.

Click here to view more about why the LMTA is against the tolls. 

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