Plans to Rebuild Calcasieu River Bridge Rejected by State House

Oct. 27, 2023
Project will not move forward unless a new plan is introduced

The $2.1 billion plan to replace the Calcasieu, Interstate 10 River Bridge announced in August was recently rejected by the state house due to a heavy reliance on tolls.

The Legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted 8-6 to kill a partnership between the state and its contractor, Calcasieu Bridge Partners.

The plan created by state officials in recent months sought to combine state and federal dollars with tolling to build the new structure. Now, those plans are on a potentially permanent hold if the state fails to come up with another model, and a lot more funding.

“The incoming (governor’s) administration will be set up for failure,” warned Eric Kalivoda, Louisiana’s transportation secretary said to NOLA. “There will be a public expectation on the new administration and the new Legislature to deliver a toll-free bridge.”

Legislators rejected the deal after trucking firms expressed concerns about paying as much as $12.50 when crossing the bridge.

“The truckers in the state of Louisiana are going to be the ones to foot the bill for this bridge,” said Renee Amar, director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association to NOLA.

Construction workers’ unions said killing the project would eliminate dozens of jobs and hurt the state's ability to get federal support for future roadwork.

“It will serve as an insurmountable negative mark against Louisiana on all future applications for federal grants related to infrastructure and energy projects,” said Josh Sonnier, political director for Ironworkers Local 623, a contractors’ union in a statement.

The final vote on the plan fell mostly along party lines, with Republicans largely voting to reject the deal, and Democrats voting to approve it.

"The history has shown that when these projects get canceled, they almost never come back,” said Dale Bonner, chairman of Plenary Concessions Americas, one of the contracting groups in the Calcasieu Bridge Partners consortium in a statement.

Both House and Senate lawmakers on the joint transportation panel needed to approve the proposal for it to advance. Because the House portion of the panel rejected the plan, the Senate did not vote on it.



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