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Louisiana State Senator speaks to South Bossier group

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Louisiana State Senator Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, speaking about the the Jimmie Davis Bridge during the South Bossier lunch group meeting on Wednesday, January 12 (Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune)

The South Bossier Lunch group met at the Bellaire South Complex on Wednesday, January 12, where special guest speaker Louisiana State Senator Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, discussed and answered questions related to the Jimmie Davis Bridge project.

Senator Ward is chairman of the state Transportation, Highways & Public Works Committee.

According to Senator Ward, the Jimmie Davis Bridge project is fully funded and is currently in the procurement process.

“The procurement process has started. They are working to get all of the qualifications of the contractors that are interested in bidding on the bridge itself. Both the procurement and the bid process will be done this year. That will be completed this year. It’s going to be done in a design build method, which is typically a lot faster. As soon as the contractor is chosen, they will be able to start designing the project. At that point, you have started to move forward. Based on what I have been told, dirt will start turning in terms of the building of it within the next two years,” said Ward.

Senator Ward went on to discuss the design features for the new Jimmie Davis Bridge and what could happen to the current Jimmie Davis Bridge.

“In terms of the structure of it and what it will look like, we don’t know exactly what it will look like. But, it is going to be a four lane bridge. It will be two lanes going in either direction. It is more cost efficient and it’s a better spend on the dollars if you simply build a four lane, versus trying to build a two lane next to the existing bridge then refurbish the existing bridge. That’s the reason why they are going that route. Of course, something will have to be done with the existing bridge. Because it is a historic bridge, you can’t just dismantle it like you would some of the other bridges. That’s an issue that will have to be addressed. There are different options for that. One thing I can tell you, whatever option is agreed upon, the state will bear the cost of getting it into a place it needs to be before moving forward,” said Ward.

Senator Ward also commented on how our local elected representatives are working diligently on our behalf in Baton Rouge.

“I want to tell you how good of a job your delegation does. Everyone does such a good job in representing you down in Baton Rouge. I think it’s very important for you to know that from somebody else that works with them everyday. What I think is really important for you to understand is, it can be very difficult to get things done of this magnitude and also maintain your principles as an elected official. I think what you should be really proud of your delegation for is the fact that they’ve gone down to Baton Rouge and they’ve maintained their principles in terms of what they told you they would represent when they got down there. And, they have still found a way to get things done for you. In particular, the now fully funded Jimmie Davis Bridge,” said Ward.

After the conclusion of Senator Ward’s comments, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. One attendee asked what local citizens are looking at in terms of a time frame for this project, a start to finish of eight to ten years?

Ward responded by saying: “I think the project will be started within the next two years. And, something this size, I would think you’re looking at a two to four year window of completing it. A lot of that depends on what the winning bid looks like. We won’t really know the timeline of its build until we have the winning bid and know what their design looks like.”

The South Bossier Lunch Group’s goal is to bring together men and women in the South Bossier community who want to stay informed and want to make a difference in their community.

The group’s vision is that the luncheon will help South Bossier business owners, stakeholders, community leaders and community partners network with each other to discuss the growth, development and business future of South Bossier and Bossier City.

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