Louisiana DOTD seeks public input for new Mississippi River bridge location

Staff Report

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will continue community meetings through next week to answer questions and solicit public comment on the location of a proposed new Mississippi River Bridge.

The final forum is set for 5 to 8 p.m. May 3 at the Carl F. Grant Civic Center.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is considering options for a new Mississippi River bridge location.

Meetings for the remainder of this week include a stop at the Donaldsonville High School gym Thursday, followed by a forum May 2 at Lamar Dixon Expo Center Banquet Hall in Gonzales.

The meetings kicked off last week with stops in Baton Rouge, St. Gabriel and Addis, all after press times. Details on those meetings will be featured in next week’s edition.

The meetings began at the same time Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, launched an ad campaign in which he urged residents to contact state lawmakers and give their support for the project, which has been a talking point since the 1980s.

The project gained its biggest push in January when Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended a line item in the proposed 2023 budget that would funnel $500 million for a bridge that would be located between Addis and White Castle.

But the House Appropriations Committee voted last week to divert $100 million of that funding to preservation projects across the state. The remaining $400 million is not earmarked for the bridge, although it still could go to that project. 

Ward – a member of the Senate Transportation, Highways & Public Works Committee –remains optimistic that next year’s state budget will include money to put the wheels in motion for the bridge project.

The $500 million represents 20 percent of the estimated $2.5 billion price tag for the new bridge and the roadways leading to the artery.

It would mark the first Mississippi River Bridge constructed south of Port Allen since completion of the Sunshine Bridge in 1964. The Huey P. Long Bridge (the “old” Mississippi River Bridge) was completed in 1940, and the “new” bridge, also known as the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, opened in April 1968.