Officials upbeat about federal infrastructure bill

Staff Report

The agreement that led to the historic federal investment in critical projects related to roads, bridges, mitigation, and coastal protection – among other issues – drew praise from Gov. John Bel Edwards and DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson.

DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill could benefit the state through the constructions of new roadways and bridges – possibly the long-awaited Mississippi River Bridge for Iberville Parish, as well as the replacement of the aging Calcasieu River Bridge along I-10 in Lake Charles.

“I commend the Biden administration and the bipartisan group of senators on reaching an agreement on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Framework, which delivers on the president’s promise of investment into the nation’s infrastructure and transportation system,” Edwards said. “Secretary Wilson and I worked with Sen. Bill Cassidy, other governors and members of Congress on many of the ideas that were discussed. Not only will this aid in modernizing America’s infrastructure, but it will greatly help Louisiana with its backlog of critical projects.

“Investments such as those potentially available to us through this framework will boost Louisiana’s economic development and create a lasting infrastructure system for both our urban and rural communities,” he said. “This is the first large-scale funding effort that will make a difference across the country, and nowhere will it be more appreciated than in Louisiana.”

The agreement on the bill comes as Wilson becomes president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“I can tell you that not only does Louisiana have great needs, but DOTs across the country are in need of a strong federal structure and upgrades to their systems. There are many needs across the state that we have to address, such as the I-49 Connector project, the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles and the growing traffic congestion in the Capitol Region, which continues to worsen as the area grows,” Wilson said. “This bill gives this department the opportunity to advance multimodal projects that have been in our state transportation plan for years.”

President Joe Biden was expected to sign the bill this week.