Using an expedited public feedback process, Louisiana transportation officials have narrowed options for a new bridge over the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge to three locations, all connecting the east and west banks of the parish. d’Iberville.
Capital Area Road and Bridge District commissioners got their first look at the remaining options Friday morning at the State Capitol. The commissioners represent the five parishes in the Baton Rouge area. The final three proposed locations are all south of Baton Rouge and connect Louisiana Highway 1 on the west side of the river to Highway 30 east of Iberville.
The most popular option leaves Highway 1 just south of Plaquemine and connects to LA 30 just south of the Iberville-East Baton Rouge parish line. The other two choices are less than 3 miles south on Highway 1, connecting on the downstream side of the Shintech factory. One crosses the river and goes to the same location on the east bank as the higher-rated version, near the LA 30-Bluebonnet Boulevard intersection. The other ends on the east shore near the St-Gabriel Community Center.
The next step is an environmental assessment, which Moree says will take about two years and culminate in the selection of a final location.
Commuters crossing the capital on Interstate 10 have faced traffic jams for decades despite multiple expansion projects along I-10 and I-12. The growth of suburban parishes exacerbated the problem.
Planners started with 32 preliminary bridge locations last fall and narrowed the list to 20 by the end of 2021. Governor John Bel Edwards called on the Legislature to provide $500 million for the bridge project. bridge in hopes of attracting matching federal dollars. The new bridge is expected to cost at least $1 billion to build.
The vetting process kicked into high gear once Republican legislative leaders said they were reluctant to provide the money Edwards sought because the location of the bridge was still so uncertain. The public review process had narrowed the number of sites to just 20 by early spring, and that list was cut in half by the end of March.
The Legislature eventually invested $300 million in the bridge project in next year’s budget, which awaits approval from the governor.
The selection process that produced the three locations involved a series of public hearings from April 25 to May 3. Comments were also accepted online and by phone until May 14. industrial interests, said Kara Moree, a project manager with the engineering firm that consults with state transportation officials.
Moree told commissioners on Friday that nearly 1,200 people attended the public hearings and more than 2,200 comments were submitted on the location of the bridges. The process provided local information, such as the location of family cemeteries, which would be taken into account for the selection of the bridge’s final path.