LAKE CHARLES, La. — The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DODT) announced Dec. 18 that it has received approval from the Louisiana Joint Transportation, Highway and Public Works Committee to solicit proposals and enter into a contract for a public-private partnership (P3) to build and finance a new Calcasieu River Bridge on Interstate 10 in Lake Charles. The existing bridge was built in 1952 and needs to be replaced to meet today’s federal highway standards, according to DODT.
This project will extend from the I-10/I-210 west interchange to the Ryan Street exit ramp on the east side of the bridge. The Calcasieu River Bridge and the interstate within the project limits will be reconstructed to ensure that the vertical clearance, horizontal alignment, sight distances and other road and bridge elements meet current design criteria. Additionally, the segment of Louisiana State Highway 378 (Sampson Street) from I-10 to Sulphur Avenue will be improved, along with several access ramps, and the interchanges at Sampson Street and U.S. 171 will be reconfigured. The total cost of constructing a new bridge is estimated to be between $600 and $800 million, depending on the preferred alternative chosen; DOTD has committed $85 million to the P3.
“DOTD has successfully procured funding for various projects in the past by using this innovative method considering the underperforming three decades old gas tax,” said Shawn Wilson, Louisiana’s secretary of transportation. “By utilizing a public-private partnership, the only way to move forward with this project is with the help of the private sector and a user fee. The cost of doing nothing is far greater.”
In the transportation industry, P3s generally consist of a private investor providing the necessary capital for construction in exchange for long-term agreement to operate the structure and recoup its investment. This is the third time Louisiana has formally considered pursuing alternative financing and delivery for transportation, as current funding levels severely limit the state’s ability to dedicate revenue to critical capacity projects, the DODT stated.
This project is now nearing the end of the environmental phase. Three alternative locations have been identified and will be evaluated in an environmental impact statement. A fourth public meeting will be scheduled in spring 2021 to present preliminary findings that will determine which of these alternatives is preferred. A decision is anticipated by 2022, with a contract scheduled to be awarded in early 2023.
For more information about the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge project, click here.
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