Bossier City Councilman stresses need for new Jimmie Davis Bridge, criticizes state senator

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Bossier City Councilman Scott Irwin speaks at the South Bossier Lunch Group meeting Nov. 13, 2019. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Bossier City Councilman Scott Irwin again stressed the importance of the Jimmie Davis Bridge to development in south Bossier and criticized State Senator Barrow Peacock regarding its funding.

Irwin, District 1 councilman, and Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker, advised the south Bossier community Wednesday about the changes that have taken place and changes that are to come in the area at the South Bossier Lunch Group meeting at the Shady Grove Community Center.

Irwin noted that development follows residential growth and that the area is “steadily gaining rooftops.”

“It is just a matter of time before market studies indicate that south Bossier can support larger business development,” Irwin said. 

That led him to discuss the Jimmie Davis Bridge, again criticizing State Sen. Barrow Peacock.

“One issue in south Bossier is by far the biggest: We need a (new) Jimmie Davis Bridge. I am about to express a very harsh opinion. I want you to know that I do this with a heavy heart. I have respected and worked well with our State Senator, Barrow Peacock. I thank him for his previous work representing us in Baton Rouge, but I strongly disagree with his decision to change strategy concerning the Jimmie Davis bridge,” said Irwin. 

According to Irwin, House Bill 578 allocated $100 million toward the building of a new Jimmie Davis Bridge and without his knowledge, Peacock authored amendment 2862 which moved the money from the Jimmie Davis bridge to I-49.

Senator Peacock previously answered Irwin’s criticism, saying that the Jimmie Davis Bridge was not sacrificed for I-49. Irwin disagrees.

“You know the saying ‘Show me the money!’? Well I am showing you the money. We had it allocated to the Jimmie Davis Bridge…Senator Peacock has tried to explain his strategy. Well I say, ‘Show me the money,’” Irwin said.

He continued, “Where is the $400 million? When will we get it? When will we be turning dirt on the new bridge? The bottom line is: We had the money to build a new Jimmie Davis Bridge and now we don’t. Shawn Wilson, the head of the State DOTD, stated ‘The Jimmie Davis bridge is reaching the end of it’s useful life. We should be turning dirt now.’ Folks, those are strong words.”

Irwin said that the bridge being shut down for repairs for a lengthy period would be “devastating to business in south Bossier.” 

“Big business wants to make sure they have a dependable road system to deliver customers to their front door,” Irwin said. “The one single thing we can do to get new development in South Bossier is build a new bridge now.”

Taking a wider look, Irwin said he has heard two competing statements regarding development in south Bossier — residents wanting more business establishments while others not wanting it to become Youree Drive or Airline Drive.

“I don’t think we will have the traffic hassles of Airline Drive. I am all for smart growth. The logical place for any large scale development is around the CenturyLink Center. That area can handle traffic,” he said.

Irwin then reminded the attendees of the projects that have already taken place in south Bossier, such as a stop light at the intersection of Robert E. Lee and Barksdale Boulevard, a north-bound turn lane from Barksdale Boulevard onto Sunflower Road, electrical improvements in south Bossier, and remodeling of the CenturyLink Center.

“There have been countless other improvements in South Bossier from street panel replacements, rail road track improvements, pot holes fixed, sidewalks repaired, sink holes filled, and property standards enforced,” said Irwin.

Irwin concluded by discussing the latest project he is currently working on — a north-bound turn lane at the Jamestown Apartments, at the intersection of Golden Meadows and Barksdale Boulevard. 

“Just like Sunflower Road, we need a turn lane here so cars that want to turn west into the Jamestown Apartments can stack safely. This is more complicated than Sunflower Road due to the traffic signal at this location,” said Irwin.

Mayor Walker addressed the audience with infrastructure projects that are taking place around Bossier City, including the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, the extension of Innovation Drive, widening Viking Drive and others.

The South Bossier Lunch Group meets on the second Wednesday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. at the Shady Grove Recreational Center. Their goal is to bring together men and women in the south Bossier community that want to stay informed and want to make a difference in the community.