Residents get first chance to study bridge options, ‘Someone is going to be mad’ | Legislature


On Monday night, ratepayers got their first detailed look at 10 possible sites for a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge, just weeks before the list was narrowed to three.

The rally, at the Bluebonnet Regional Library, was the first of six open houses hosted by the Department of Transportation and State Development amid a legislative debate over whether to approve Governor John’s proposal. Bel Edwards to spend $500 million on the bridge.

Residents began pouring into the assembly hall before the official 5 p.m. start.

A total of 325 people had visited the open house by 6:30 p.m., according to a DOTD spokesperson.

“We live at University Club,” Sally Daly said. “It will affect us. Someone will go crazy.”

Officials are under pressure to settle on a site, in part because some top lawmakers are reluctant to commit $500 million to a bridge without a chosen site.

The narrowing of the list of possible sites for a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge has prompted more questions, including the…

Jay Campbell, chairman of the panel of seven member states that will make the choice, was present at the meeting and said he hoped to narrow the list of possibilities down to three by the third or fourth week of May.

“Obviously the Legislative Assembly wants to see a level of progress,” Campbell said.

“But we have to go through the processes that are mandated to get any kind of federal funding,” said Campbell, who runs the Capital Area Road and Bridge District.

Seven of the 10 possible locations are in the parish of Iberville.

Two would connect the parishes of East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge and one in the parish of Ascension.

Arguments over Governor John Bel Edwards’ proposal to spend $500 million on a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge have intensified Mo…

The locations range from about five miles south of the current structure near Port Allen to about five miles north of the Sunshine Bridge.

A recurring concern among some at the open house is the possibility that the already crowded Bluebonnet Boulevard could become a link between Interstate 10 and La. Hwy. 30 on the east side.

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“It would be a show for me,” said Stephen Gilchrist, who lives in Baton Rouge. “I would move.”

Bill Palmer, another Baton Rouge resident, raised the same concern.

“I guess a question in my mind is if we can expand the existing bridge with minimal impact,” Palmer said.

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Fred Raiford, director of transportation and drainage for East Baton Rouge Parish, sits on the seven-member panel and said he doesn’t want Bluebonnet to serve as a connector between I-10 and 30.

Judy Eits said she was bothered that the bridge might be built too far south, to carry traffic to New Orleans.

Eits said a lot of traffic on the current bridge near Port Allen, especially 18-wheelers, is trying to get onto I-12 eastbound and those drivers want to avoid New Orleans.

“I don’t know if that’s our big deal,” she said, meaning it’s easier for motorists to get on I-10 eastbound.

Julius Cline of Baton Rouge made a similar point.

“I’m afraid they’re building it so far south that it won’t help Baton Rouge,” Cline said.

Officials from Atlas Consultants LLC, which has a $5 million state contract to help with the selection, said they could narrow the list to three sites now, but public sessions are needed to satisfy the rules. federal and others.

Campbell said on Monday he hoped a final site would be decided by 2024 at the latest.

The Capital Area Road and Bridge District includes the leaders of DOTD, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston and Iberville parishes and Campbell, who is president and Edwards appointee.

The next open house will be Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. at the St. Gabriel Community Center, 11400 Gordon Simon LeBlanc Dr.


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