I-10 bridge

Opened to traffic in 1952, the I-10 bridge is exceeding its daily capacity of 70,876 vehicles, Shawn Wilson, DOTD secretary, said.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation is urging U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to approve a grant application by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for replacing the aging Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge.

The letter, sent to Buttigeg Thursday, calls for support of the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant application by the state DOTD. It states that the I-10 bridge project meets the grant standards because it is intended to address “serious congestion issues on a highly-traveled corridor.” It mentions that the bridge, opened in 1951, has outlived its 50-year lifespan and has an average of 80,000 vehicles crossing it daily. While structurally sound, the bridge “lacks modern safety features.”

The grant, along with the $85 million committed on the state level, would “enable leveraging gap financing” for the bridge through a public-private partnership, or P3.

The letter also mentions the I-10 bridge as a gateway for various industries, such as Sasol, Cheniere LNG, Driftwood LNG, Magnolia LNG and others.

“Adding additional lanes would expand the capabilities of the I-10 corridor, which is vital for Southwest Louisiana, Houston and New Orleans,” the letter reads. “With strategic investment in Southwest Louisiana’s infrastructure needs, we can unlock its full potential, benefitting the entire nation.”

The state DOTD held a meeting in March to allow public feedback on three alternatives to replacing the I-10 bridge. All options call for tolls.

The letter is signed by U.S Reps. Clay Higgins, R-Point Barre; Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge; Julia Letlow, R-Start; Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; and Mike Johnson, R-Pineville. The 2nd Congressional District seat is vacant at the moment. U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, also signed the letter.

Higgins also sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday, asking her to support a supplemental disaster relief plan to help Southwest Louisiana in its long-term recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

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