Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has canceled the contract for the Jimmie Davis Bridge rehabilitation project.
Instead, the appropriated money will be diverted toward the design and ultimate construction of a new bridge in south Bossier.
Last month, DOTD announced they had terminated the $23.4 million contract to rehabilitate the bridge. The contract with PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. was reportedly terminated because of the “inability to reach an agreement” on a plan or a price to address cliff swallows currently inhabiting the bridge. Cliff swallows are federally protected birds.

Cindy Dorfner, LADOTD Public Information Officer, told the Press-Tribune in May that the project would go back on the DOTD’s agenda this month to start the bid process over again.

However, the rehabilitation project was pulled completely.
“It was a combination of local and state lawmakers working together to figure out what the best move was going forward for Shreveport-Bossier,” Dorfner said.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

A timeline for the project is not yet available, but the most important step, according to DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, is to get the design process started. Dorfner said the design process will tell us what the bridge will look like.

“The environmental study is done,” Dorfner said.  “Now they just need to go in and design it. We won’t have a lot of answers until this process is complete.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said a new bridge is a “common-sense solution” to making the best use of the state’s financial resources.

“By working with our state and local partners, we have developed a new strategy that will better serve Northwest Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “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 Dr. Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “This new bridge will support long-term transportation solutions and add value to the communities of Shreveport-Bossier.”

Sen. Peacock called the project a great link between Shreveport and Bossier.

“A new modern four-lane Jimmie Davis Bridge will continue to allow our community to grow and prosper,” Senator Peacock said. “In addition, it will allow our daily commute and commerce to flow with speed and efficiency. I appreciate Governor 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.”

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.”