BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Drivers hoping to cross a new Mississippi River bridge will first have to cross something else — years off of calendars.
The seven-member Capital Area Road and Bridge District expects the selection process for a third Baton Rouge-area span could take four years. State transportation officials say a choice may come before that, but they have some steps to finish first.
Phase one would use an outside consultant to narrow the site options to three, a process that could take two of the aforementioned four years.
“There a potential to get that done quicker,” state transportation spokesman Rodney Mallett told BRProud.com Tuesday. “Sticking to deadline is very important, but it’s also very important to get everything correct.”
Then step two: picking one spot, based on projected social, economic and environmental impacts. That could take another two years.
“While we’ll hold them to that, recognize that the most important decision is to get to the document in its completeness as opposed to being driven by time,” said Department of Transportation and Development secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson. “Otherwise, we could end up making some costly mistakes that could come to bite us.”
Construction of a new crossing could cost roughly $1 billion. Funding would likely come from public and private pools. State leaders maintain that even if dollars were immediately available for the project, officials would still need to pursue the same environmental-impact procedures.