Bridge building

Transportation planner discusses I-10 replacement, I-210 work

By Brian Trahan

<p class="p1">Calcasieu Parish and state leaders agree the Interstate 10 bridge over the Calcasieu River needs to be replaced. Agreeing on how, when, where and how much to spend is another story.</p><p class="p1">Walter Council, the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission’s transportation planner, addressed bridge replacement, upcoming construction on the Interstate 210 bridge and possible solutions for traffic congestion over the next two decades to Sulphur Kiwanis Club members this week.</p><p class="p1">“To get to a new bridge, there are three phases we have to go through,” Council said. “The first one was the project on the I-10 bridge that we’ve already experienced. The second stage is the I-210 project that will last a year and cut the bridge down to two lanes of travel.</p><p class="p1">“A little bit of pain for a lot of gain, if you will,” Council continued. “The third phase is to have a brand new bridge.”</p><p class="p1">Council said the state Department of Transportation and Development is expected to announce its record of decision — different alternatives for the new bridge, including an environmental impact study and the best solutions for the project — as early as May 2019. </p><p class="p1">“More than likely this new bridge will be a tollway,” Council said. “As you know government is not as charitable with its transportation funding as it once was. When you have a project of any size, it’s ordinarily going to be an 80-20 split with funding — 20 percent being local. When you have a mega project, like this one, it’s probably going to be a 50-50 split. Because of that, more than likely it will have to be a tollway.”</p><p class="p1">One question raised at the meeting was whether or not an eventual second loop off I-10 would be feasible to alleviate traffic from Sulphur to Lake Charles and back.</p><p class="p1">Council mentioned that a second loop has been discussed in meetings — both a north loop in the Westlake-Moss Bluff area and a south loop coming into Carlyss.</p><p class="p1">He said the more plausible option would be a south loop from Carlyss to Lake Charles due to the wetlands in the north, but that would involve designing a third bridge across the Calcasieu Ship Channel.</p><p class="p1">Council said a hyperloop high-speed capsule travel study is among ways technology is being used to solve traffic issues. </p><p class="p1">He said Texas has been designated as a possible location for hyperloop travel. The Texas Triangle loop would be a 640-mile system that would connect Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. In theory, passengers would be able to travel from Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes in a pressurized tube at nearly 500 to 600 mph.</p><p class="p1">“They are undertaking a feasibility study for the Hyperloop now,” Council said. “Think about when you go to the bank and you use the vacuum tube to transport. Imagine a horizontal vacuum tube with a shuttle traveling through this tube.</p><p class="p1">“This is next door to us,” he said. “Who knows 20 to 30 years from now, what could happen to Lake Charles.”</p>

<strong>‘A little bit of pain for a lot of gain, if you will. The third phase is to have a brand new bridge.’  </strong>

<strong>Walter Council</strong>

Transportation planner

””<p>Interstate 210 bridge</p>RickHickmanPhotographer