U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana, is urging the Trump administration and congressional appropriators to prioritize funding for a new Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge.
On Wednesday, Higgins sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging the prioritization for Southwest Louisiana's much-needed infrastructure funding, reminding the administration and Congress the area's needs remain largely unaddressed.
Higgins reminded the administration and Congress that Southwest Louisiana has been the fastest-growing region in the state, and among the top nationally for economic growth, citing its top position within the nation's energy dominance due to projects like Sasol, Cheniere and several others.
"In order for the state and the nation to fully capitalize on the success of these projects and corresponding job creation, we must ensure that the region receives the infrastructure resources it needs to thrive. This includes funding for a new Interstate bridge and the dredging of our waterways," Higgins' letter states in part.
The I-10 bridge first received presidential attention in May 2019 when Trump visited Lake Charles and his motorcade traveled across the existing structure.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy John Kennedy were riding with Trump inside the presidential limousine at the time, and used the opportunity to bring the bridge to the president's attention.
Originally constructed in 1952, the bridge was designed for a traffic load of 37,000 crossings a day, with an intended lifespan of 50 years. By 2016, the average daily crossings were recorded at over 80,000, according to Higgins' letter.
During his public speech that day, Trump pledged his support to build a new bridge upon his re-election. Since that time, local energies have been focused on the much-needed completion of an Environmental Impact Study in order for plans to come together for the bridge, however the study has continuously been pushed back. The latest completion date is expected in 2021.
Higgins acknowledged the importance of finalizing the EIS, as well as a funding application, but said he remains focused on ensuring the I-10 bridge remains at the forefront of any upcoming federal infrastructure package.
In January, a $45.5 million project began to widen I-10 eastbound and westbound to four lanes from the La. 108 interchange to the I-210 interchange. The project is expected to be completed next year, leaving the outdated I-10 bridge a focal point for the growing infrastructure demands of the area.