The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced today the cancellation of the contract for the Jimmie Davis Bridge rehabilitation project in order to divert the appropriated money towards the design and ultimate construction of a new bridge.
“I want to invest in real, long-term, common-sense transportation solutions that make the best use of our financial resources,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards in a news release. “By working with our state and local partners, we have developed a new strategy that will better serve Northwest Louisiana. The rehabilitation project would have spent more than $20 million and would not address the overall problem. I’m confident that this is the wisest investment for Louisiana and the best approach to address the transportation challenges in the Shreveport-Bossier region.”
The DOTD Secretary agrees with the decision.
“After initial conversation with Sen. Barrow Peacock and Rep. Thomas Carmody, I had conversations with Mayors Ollie Tyler and Lo Walker, as well as with Kent Rogers, the director of the Metropolitan Planning Office, who all asked the state to reconsider the appropriation of the money for a new bridge,” said Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “This new bridge will support long-term transportation solutions and add value to the communities of Shreveport-Bossier.”
In an effort to keep options open for the allocation of money, Peacock recently added language into House Bill 2 to allow for the money to be used either for maintenance of the cur-rent bridge, or towards the design and construction of a new bridge.
“A new modern four-lane Jimmie Davis Bridge will continue to allow our community to grow and prosper,” Peacock said. “In addition, it will allow our daily commute and commerce to flow with speed and efficiency. I appreciate Gov. Edwards, Secretary Wilson, Mayors Tyler and Walker, and David North, district administrator for the Bossier City DOTD office, for all working together for the benefit of Shreveport-Bossier.”
While a final estimate for the new bridge isn’t available, funding will need to come from a combination of state and federal resources.
“We always knew that the investment in maintenance of the current bridge would make the request for a new bridge less competitive,” Wilson said. “The step to forgo the rehabilitation project allows us to start the design process as soon as possible with the money we have.”
A timeline for the project is not yet available, but the most important step, according to Wilson, is to get the design process started.
The department will continue to perform maintenance on the Jimmie Davis Bridge, which sees nearly 19,000 travelers a day, as it will remain open during construction to minimize disruption to commuters and businesses in the community.
“We are confident in the safety of the current bridge and are committed to its maintenance and continued safety,” said North. “This is an exciting project for us in Northwest Louisiana and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”