DOTD Gives Latest Update On Lake Charles I-10 Bridge Proposal
We all know how scary and dangerous it is to drive across the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles. A few months back, the DOTD announced the new plan for the new I-10 Bridge. Some of the locals were not pleased to find out that the Interstate would be paid for via a Public-Private Partnership, or by toll. The DOTD held a meeting to answer some of the questions from the public, and here's what we know...
The new bridge will include full shoulders, be lower, and have more lanes and lighting. Two proposals were submitted to DOTD in June during negotiations, but CBP was ultimately selected after extensive review. The current Calcasieu River Bridge was constructed in 1952, and there is no question a replacement is needed sooner rather than later.
The DOTD provided a list of the Project Benefits for the new I-10 Bridge:
I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge
- New structure to provide river crossing for next 100 years.
- The new bridge provides less steep approach grades compared to the existing bridge.
- Constructed on offset alignment to minimize impacts to traveling public during construction.
- Widens I-10 to 3 lanes in each direction to improve traffic conditions and meet future demands.
- Ties in with the recently completed interstate widening project (at the I-210 interchange)
PPG Drive Interchange
- Maintains US 90 across to I-10 while accommodating widened interstate.
- Provides access to Sampson Street well in advance of the interchange to eliminate backups on I-10.
Sampson Street Interchange:
- Eliminates two at-grade railroad crossings eliminating traffic delays & providing improved emergency response services to the City of Westlake.
- Minimize traffic backups onto I-10 by utilizing an elevated interchange concept.
- Ties in with the existing 3-lane section at Ryan & Bilbo Street.
- Provides improved on and off-ramp geometry with auxiliary or acceleration lanes to meet current standards.
- Maintains access to the lakefront along Lakeshore Dr.
The I-10 Bridge project involves over a 5-mile corridor of service roads and onramps. This includes a stretch at North Lakeshore and Ryan Street that will connect to the I-10 and I-120 interchange at PPG Drive, Sampson Street. Sampson Street will reportedly be elevated over the railroad tracks to eliminate traffic caused by trains. The DOTD provided us with photos of what that could eventually look like...
One of the main concerns of the general public was the use of Public-Private Partnerships (Tolls) to fund the new I-10 Bridge. According to the meeting, The request was approved in 2020 to use Public Private Partnership (tolls) in order to build the bridge. It was previously shut down in 2017, without a toll. So inevitably, the bridge would not be able to be rebuilt without the funding of the tolls.
Why Are We Being Asked To Pay A Toll? There is NOT enough sufficient money in the state's revenue to allow for state funding of the bridge. It has been voted on, and failed, numerous times to try and fit it into the budget. (2015, 2017) Tried to use Gas Tax. The toll was approved in 2020 via a vote.
CURRENTLY, there is not a toll on any portion of I-10 throughout the nation, but it is in the works in multiple spots including Mobils, Alabama, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mobile's will be a state toll bridge.
Here are the presentations that were presented regarding Toll Rates:
TRAFFIC DETOURS: There will be multiple closures, but the DOTD has a plan to hopefully space out the closures to minimize the traffic issues as much as possible. Ramp 7, Sampson Street (8 months), Bilbo St., and Ryan St. will be closed for long amounts of time at times. These will happen at different times, outside of Ramp 7 and Sampson St.
Here is a look at the Complete Overview of the project that was provided at the meeting:
A Look at Transportation in the Future