WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) sent a letter today urging Governor John Bel Edwards to address remaining state-level barriers before a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge project can become eligible for federal appropriations.
The letter notes “significant milestones that remain incomplete at the state level,” which include the unfinished environmental impact statement, the lack of a finalized plan and project footprint, and ongoing litigation between the State and local industry. The letter continues, “promising $85 million in funds puts much-needed skin in the game for the state, but further action must be taken to clearly define the project, architecturally and financially, before any funds can be used or before the project is eligible for federal assistance.”
View the letter here or read the text of the letter below:
August 28, 2019
Governor John Bel Edwards
Office of the Governor
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Honorable Governor Edwards,
Good Sir, I write to you this day regarding your recent announcement that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) and the Division of Administration are taking steps to introduce the 2020 Capital Outlay bill with $85 million in general obligation funds for a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge. I appreciate your focus on the infrastructure needs of Southwest Louisiana, yet I have several concerns regarding the incomplete environmental impact statement and the fact that no absolute plan for a new bridge or its footprint has been made public.
As you know, progress towards a new bridge has increased drastically since 2017, and I have made it clear that my congressional office is focused on this project at the federal level. However, having a final project scope and a completed environmental impact statement are significant milestones that remain incomplete at the state level. Promising $85 million in funds puts much-needed skin in the game for the state, but further action must be taken to clearly define the project, architecturally and financially, before any funds can be used or before the project is eligible for federal assistance. Project-definitive federal appropriations in DC require the completion of architecture and engineering from Baton Rouge. With the help of my colleagues, I’ll get Baton Rouge the federal monies… however, I need the finalized plan, the envisioned footprint. In hand, actual engineering plans of the bridge, not a vaguely described idea for a bridge.
There are also lingering concerns over the state’s lawsuit against local industry. This lawsuit, as you know, has been a serious factor delaying progress and state action on this bridge. I hope that we will soon hear from your administration that the legal matters and lack of a clear, definitive plan for the bridge have been addressed. As I have written previously, my office, President Trump, and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation stand ready to assist with federal funding once all state and local government issues have been remedied. We are prepared to work with State Government to make this desperately needed new bridge a reality.
Member of Congress