Several locals who took part in a Thursday Zoom meeting voiced support for one of the three alternatives to replace the aging Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge because it is the least expensive, has the fewest impacts and maintains easy access to Westlake.
The meeting, hosted by the state Department of Transportation and Development, allowed for public feedback and questions on the alternatives being considered for the new bridge. A number of residents backed alternative 5G, which calls for “a bridge with the westbound approach built on a retaining wall for the I-10 mainline over the Calcasieu River,” the department said on its website. It “would allow a fully directional interchange to be elevated over the I-10 mainline.”
Additionally, Sampson Street would be elevated under the 5G alternative, “connecting four ramps to the interstate and providing a grade separation for the railroad crossings.”
Railroad tracks on the south side of the bridge would be relocated.
Alternatives 3A and 3E would be a “long-span bridge for the I-10 mainline over the Calcasieu River,” touching down west of Sampson Street. The existing Sampson Street railroad crossings would remain.
“The westbound off-ramp to Sampson Street would curve under the new bridge and touch down on Isle of Capri Boulevard near Mike Hooks Road,” the description reads. Sulphur Avenue would be extended “crossing the river to the north of the mainline with a movable bridge” for drivers to bypass the railroad crossings.
The “extension would connect with the I-10 mainline east of the river,” but under 3A, “only westbound exit and eastbound entrance ramps would be provided.” The 3E option would have four ramps, as well as entrances and exits for eastbound and westbound.
Alternative 5G would cost an estimated $947 million, compared to $1.12 billion for alternative 3A and $1.2 billion for alternative 3E. The estimates do not include other expenses, such as acquiring rights-of-way. Officials said those costs could add an extra 10-15 percent to the overall price tag.
All three options call for electronic tolls on the new I-10 bridge, transportation officials said. Any differences in toll amounts for cars versus trucks would be negotiated once a private partner has been chosen through the public-private, or P3, partnership.
Eric Kalivoda, DOTD deputy secretary, said locals would save money by purchasing a toll tag. Drivers without a toll tag would have a picture taken of their license plate and would be mailed a bill, he said.
Drivers wanting to avoid tolls on the new I-10 bridge could divert to Interstate 210.
Officials said all three alternatives will protect the drinking water in the Chicot Aquifer.
Officials said the new bridge will have a boat launch.
Kalivoda urged residents to notify the DOTD of the bridge alternative they prefer.
“This (bridge) is going to be here for a long time, probably close to 100 years,” he said. “You only get one chance to get it right. We need to hear from you to move forward.”
The deadline for public comments on the I-10 bridge project is in April. A final environmental impact statement and record of decision is expected by the end of this year.
The current I-10 bridge, opened in 1952, has outlived its lifespan. It underwent rehabilitation work in 2011-2012 and additional repairs in 2018-2019.
To learn more about the three alternatives, view maps or leave feedback, visit