BAFB interchange project poses opportunity as it progresses

A map of the proposed I-20/220 interchange upgrades and Barksdale entrance.

Lawmakers weigh in on future plans

The future road leading into Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City is taking shape as the $78.1 million project moves forward. As the project progresses, lane and ramp closures will be required.

In a statement released by DOTD last week, beginning on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 9:00 a.m., the I-220 eastbound to I-20 westbound on-ramp will be closed for approximately 90 days. At this time, the ramp is set to re-open on Sunday, August 2, 2020.

This ramp closure is necessary to allow the contractor to construct a portion of the tie-in to the existing ramp.

Detour signage will be in place directing motorists on I-220, US 80 and Industrial Drive (LA 782-2). Drivers should be aware that this ramp closure will be in place and plan their routes accordingly.

The contractor is also working on drill shafts, pile driving, constructing end bents for the future overpass, and prepping areas of the project for soil cement.

State Representative for District 9, Dodie Horton, says with the interstate connection into Barksdale almost 25% complete, it presents a unique opportunity for the region and state.

“Once we get through COVID and understand its economic impact on our state, we need to begin marketing our region’s assets – Barksdale’s in particular. Everyone from local government, to our federal officials, to private entities and local associations; we need to work together, create a plan, and devote our time to one thing: bringing in new businesses to our region,” Horton said.

“We need to travel the nation to meet with business executives to recruit them to North Louisiana. Our most immediate opportunity will be to recruit those businesses who work with the Air Force, but are located in high-tax, high cost-of-living states. We have competitive advantages that don’t require us to just bribe businesses to our state. If it comes down to tax incentives and financial bribes to lure businesses, we’ll never be able to compete with larger and wealthier states like Texas. That’s why we need to go to businesses instead of waiting on businesses to come to us,” she added.

Horton went on to say that Northwest Louisiana needs to start aggressively promoting our region and creating our own economic growth.

“Build it and they will come,” is no longer an effective strategy for economic growth. We all know that most of the state’s resources and efforts are focused below I-10. We can’t wait or rely on others. We have to take it upon ourselves to start aggressively promoting our region and creating our own economic growth,” Horton said.

“Bossier is a great place to live, it’s affordable, and has Barksdale to anchor our economy. We need to be leveraging this opportunity to make North Louisiana’s growth the envy of all Louisiana. We have Cyber Command and Global Strike… why can’t we have more?,” she added.

District 36 Senator, Robert Mills, says the I-220/I-20 interchange project is a model for future projects.

“The I-220/I-20 interchange is one of the most valuable highway projects we’ve seen in a long time. This new and unimpeded “front door” into BAFB will help insure the longevity and growth of the base as a nuclear powerhouse well into the future. It has been impressive to watch the numerous governmental bodies work together for the greater good of BAFB and all of Northwest Louisiana. Quite a model for future projects,” said Mills.

District 6 Representative, Thomas Pressly, says transportation infrastructure is important to ensuring the long-term success of Northwest Louisiana.

“It’s great to see progress being made on the I-20/I-220 BAFB Interchange Project. Barksdale Air Force Base is a vital part of the economy and culture of our community and I am proud that Louisiana is continuing to support the base by completing this project. Transportation infrastructure is important to ensuring the long-term success of Northwest Louisiana. The I-49 inner city connector, I-69, and the Jimmie Davis Bridge all continue to be top-priorities as we look to the future as well,” said Pressly.

District 8 Representative, Raymond Crews, says that Bossier City needs Barksdale AFB. And Barksdale AFB needs us to make sure we provide them with what’s required to do their mission efficiently and effectively

“Barksdale AFB is a treasured resource for our community as well as the nation. Sure it’s a key military asset, but it’s also part of our history, our economy, and those based here are part of our family. We worship with them, play sports with them, shop and dine with them, and their kids are friends with ours. In fact, my family settled in Bossier City because this was my last assignment. We liked what we found and decided to stay. 

“We need them. And they need us to make sure we provide them with what’s required to do their mission efficiently and effectively,” Crews said.

“Building the link to connect the East part of the base to the national interstate highway system is part of how we do that. It will prove instrumental to our national defense. Vital weapons and components will have a direct route to where they are needed. This will simplify security and prevent delays and complications that presently exist using current entrances which are encumbered by railways. The new entrance will have a bridge over the railway and will directly connect to Interstate 220,” he added.

Crews went on to say that the I-20/I-220 BAFB Interchange Project represents our community’s thanks to provide the infrastructure to retain and improve Barksdale AFB.

“Take a look the next time you pass the intersection of I-20 and I-220 in Bossier. That construction represents our community’s thanks and our desire to provide the infrastructure to retain and improve Barksdale AFB, it’s mission, and our family,” said Crews.

The anticipated completion for the project is Fall 2021, with progress dependent on weather conditions.