When Gov. John Bel Edwards and state transportation secretary Shawn Wilson introduced Monday that the point out is acquiring $216 million in transportation assist from one particular of the federal COVID-reduction expenses passed last calendar year, they named a number of infrastructure projects that will benefit from the unpredicted windfall.
Among the them: $50 million for a stretch of Interstate 49 close to Lafayette and $29 million towards construction of a new bridge in Lake Charles.
Noticeably absent from the record of assignments was a new bridge around the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, which is by now perfectly into the preparing stage nevertheless nonetheless has no source of funding.
Why was the Baton Rouge bridge left out of the package?
In accordance to Wilson, the preliminary preparing phase underway for the new Baton Rouge bridge is currently absolutely funded, and the federal relief bucks “come with timeline constraints” and have to be expended ahead of the condition will be completely ready to shift forward with the upcoming section of setting up for the bridge.
In 2019, the condition allotted $5 million towards preparing for the new bridge and subsequently awarded a deal in early 2020 to Atlas Technological Consultants to do the operate, which features pinpointing a area for the span.
What’s far more, says Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, the sum of cash in the transportation package deal announced Monday is not enough to make a important dent in the value of a new bridge, which has an believed price tag of $1 billion.
“What we have is a $1 billion challenge,” suggests Ward, who has been doing work on determining a funding source for a new bridge since 2018. “The aid dollars that arrived in wasn’t even more than enough to broach the discussion or to communicate about putting up some of this money for a community-personal partnership.”
That reported, Ward is optimistic that a funding resource for the new bridge could be identified as soon as the existing legislative session.
“Our prospect to fund the new bridge is going to occur not from a new tax but from redirecting an previously current tax to streets, bridges and infrastructure,” he claims.
However no charges have been filed however, lawmakers continue to have time to file steps that could prolong present taxes due to sunset later this yr or following.
“We constantly have tax credits, exemptions, gross sales taxes, items that are sunsetting,” he states. “At some place it is on us if we really don’t prioritize infrastructure by producing a selection to stage out a thing from the general price range and immediate it to infrastructure, no matter of what that is and exactly where it arrives from. We just cannot say it’s a precedence if we really don’t start out.”