Speeding up bridge work

Private dollars secured for I-210 incentive package

<p class="p1">The contractor who will work on the Interstate 210 bridge repairs could get up to $750,000 if the job wraps up early, with private entities pledging roughly 40 percent of the money, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Tuesday.</p><p class="p1">L’Auberge Casino Resort and Golden Nugget Casino each pledged $100,000, Hunter said. Local industries collectively pledged $100,000, and the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau contributed $75,000. </p><p class="p1">The remaining $375,000 comes from the parishwide gambling pool, which includes the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the six municipalities in the parish.</p><p class="p1">The incentive package, Hunter said, would pay the contractor $10,000 per day for the first 30 days the project is done early. They would be paid $15,000 per day if the project is done 60 days ahead of schedule.</p><p class="p1">The state Department of Transportation and Development announced in June that Metairie-based Kiewit Louisiana Co. submitted a bid with a one-year construction timeline. Earlier projections called for a three-year schedule. Work is planned to start this fall and be done by the fall of 2019. </p><p class="p1">“We may not even pay a penny of this (incentive) money,” Hunter said. “But I’ll tell you, to have 60 days and the possibility of less traffic nightmares, I hope we spend the money.”</p><p class="p1">Hunter said local officials pushed for an incentive package after seeing the hours-long traffic jams earlier this year while crews repaired a section of Interstate 10 that included the Calcasieu River bridge.</p><p class="p1">“We knew that (Interstate) 210 was probably going to be as bad or worse,” he said.</p><p class="p1">The effort, Hunter said, is about “lessening the pain” for locals and visitors.</p><p class="p1">“If people are traveling to Lake Charles for recreation and all of a sudden, that two-hour trip is now four hours, they may decide not to come,” he said.</p><p class="p1">A 10-percent drop in gambling and sales tax revenue at Golden Nugget and L’Auberge would lead to an estimated $120,000 in lost monthly revenue for the city, Hunter said.</p><p class="p1">“If we’re losing that amount of money on a 10-percent drop, the investment we’re making is well worth it,” he said. “If the (state’s) revenue drops from those casinos, they’re going to be the most affected.”</p><p class="p1">One local business saw its revenue drop by 30 percent during the I-10 construction, Hunter said.</p><p class="p1">“We don’t want to see that happen to local businesses,” he said.</p><p class="p1">The I-210 work calls for redecking the bridge’s 930-foot main span; building an inspection walkway underneath the bridge; improving barrier rails; and installing lighting.</p><p class="p1">Gov. John Bel Edwards said in July the contract includes a $25,000 penalty for each day the work goes past schedule.</p>””<p>ARCHIVES: I-210 bridge, Lake Charles ( Rick Hickman/American Press )</p>RickHickmanPhotographer
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