I-210 bridge repair could affect tourism

The American Press

<p class="p1">The upcoming repair work on the Interstate 210 bridge will certainly cause some traffic issues around town. However, drivers won’t be the only ones affected.</p><p class="p3">A study released in January stated that peak-hour commutes could be an average of 10 to 15 minutes longer during construction, with some routes possibly seeing 30 more minutes of travel time.</p><p class="p3">Daily slowdowns could dissuade tourists from coming to Lake Charles, which would hurt local businesses. Casinos, in particular, may end up seeing fewer visitors from Texas if the traffic problems are as bad as officials predict.</p><p class="p3">Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said the city could lose an estimated $120,000 in monthly revenue if gambling and sales tax revenue at Golden Nugget Casino and L’Auberge Casino Resort drops by 10 percent.</p><p class="p3">While the bid offered by Kiewit Louisiana Co. stated they could get the work done in one year, public and private entities are offering up to $750,000 as an incentive to get it done sooner.</p><p class="p3">Forty percent of that money came from private sources. L’Auberge and Golden Nugget each pledged, $100,000, while local industries collectively pledged $100,000. The Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau put up $75,000. The rest of the money comes from the parishwide gambling pool.</p><p class="p3">The contractor could get $10,000 daily for the first 30 days the project is done early, and $15,000 per day if it’s done 60 days early.</p><p class="p3">We all know how awful the traffic problems were while crews repaired a section of Interstate 10 earlier this year to prepare for the I-210 bridge work. And that was only a few months. </p><p class="p3">The contractor won’t get the financial incentive if they stick to the one-year timeline. But it’s encouraging to know that they may be enticed to get it done 60 days early. </p><p class="p3">However, the improvements should be top quality. The last thing an aging bridge needs is shoddy repair work done quickly so the contractor could earn more money.</p><p class="p3">The fact that private entities offered money for the incentive program shows just how committed they are to getting this project done sooner than later. They understand how a project like this could impact the local economy.</p><p class="p3">Repairing the I-210 bridge isn’t something any locals, or out-of-towners, are looking forward to. But it has to get done. With this incentive package, maybe those traffic woes will be a little less painful.</p>””<p>The Golden Nugget is one of several attractions that helps bring tourists to our area.</p>RickHickmanPhotographer