BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said money needs to be designated for the Mississippi bridge now to show the state’s commitment to the project and save money down the road.
“It’s past time for a new, new bridge,” Dardenne said.
The newest Mississippi River Bridge project is years away from construction, but Dardenne said the state needs to invest now.
“It’s very important, from my vantage point that $500 million would be placed in a specific fund for the Baton Rouge bridge to evidence the commitment and take away any uncertainty as to whether the bridge would be competing with other projects for those dollars,” Dardenne said.
On Monday morning, legislators created a fund designating $500 million for revitalization and infrastructure, but that money could be spread out to several projects across the state.
“It created the fund in two parts, $400 million is to be deposited and credited into a construction sub-fund,” Dardenne said. “And $100 million is to be deposited into a preservations sub-fund.”
Money designated directly to this project could get the ball rolling on environmental studies and help secure grants. Dardenne knows the bridge is going to be an expensive project, but more funding from grants might mean a cheaper toll for the driver.
“Tolling is going to have to be a component of it, that doesn’t mean it has to be, in fact, it can’t be an unreasonably high toll, it’s got to be a reasonable toll to have any meaningful impact at all,” Dardenne said.
Louisiana residents will have the chance to review the ten proposed locations. The public’s feedback will be used to narrow that list to three by the end of May.