Plans for Calcasieu River Toll Bridge Approved

Feb. 1, 2024
Approval comes after the initial plan was rejected last October

Louisiana lawmakers have approved a public-private partnership to build a $2.1 billion toll bridge over the Calcasieu River. The approval comes after the initial plan was rejected last October

Joe Donahue, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (La DOTD), presented a series of changes the department negotiated to bring down the cost of tolls and the burden on taxpayers to replace the 71-year-old Calcasieu River Bridge near Lake Charles.

“No one likes tolls, but I think we have a better one now,” said Sen. Mark Abraham to Neworleanscitybusiness.com.

The renegotiated agreement would expand a 25-cent toll with a vehicle size limit for locals to all noncommercial vehicles in a 5-parish area. It would reduce the toll for large trucks from $12.50 with a transponder to $8.25. Large trucks without transponders would pay $12.36 instead of $18.73.

“The previous toll schedule, it really did place an outsized burden on those commercial trucks … and so this has brought it in line with the rates that are being charged to passenger automobiles and medium trucks,” Donahue said.

The rate reduction is “funded through additional public fund contributions to be finalized at financial close,” according to Donahue.

The new toll rates are below what La DOTD predicted when the project was initially considered at $1.7 billion. If a new deal weren’t approved, the state would likely pursue a fully public toll bridge with higher rates, Donahue said.

State law requires approval from the Legislature, and both chambers represented on the Joint Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted Tuesday to approve the new agreement with only two lawmakers opposed.

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Source: New Orleans City Business News

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