Home Opinion-Free Our eye is on the prize – a new four-lane bridge

Our eye is on the prize – a new four-lane bridge

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Lisa Johnson

There has been a lot of talk recently about a new bridge for LA 511, which is currently the Jimmie Davis Bridge. And, rightfully so. Bossier Parish is continuing to be an outlier in North Louisiana as it grows with economic opportunities and residents alike. But this discussion is really about more than infrastructure. It’s about opportunity and connection.

I am not sure if many residents are aware of this, but Bossier Parish has perhaps the most collaborative spirit among government entities of any you will see. Well, like I said, perhaps you don’t see it if you are not attending city and parish meetings regularly as we do, but just trust me, it is there. The latest example was when the parish hosted an infrastructure meeting and had 15 entities present their information on what they are doing to address the growth and needs within Bossier Parish. That meeting brought all of the stakeholders to the table, including dozens more entities like us who didn’t make presentations but needed to be in the room so we could all have the knowledge of how we are tackling our growth challenges.

What Bossier Parish sees is opportunity. And, the officials in the parish do not have any qualms about talking to the cities and towns within it to collaborate to get things done. Likewise, there are constant talks across the river to include Caddo Parish and Shreveport into projects when needed.
Most especially, right now, LA 511.

Currently, there is funding for a new four-lane bridge and the old bridge would be rehabbed into a linear park, also known as a walking or biking bridge for residents with no vehicular traffic. There is also a second option to rehab the current bridge and add a second, brand new two-lane span so that there are two lanes of traffic going in each direction.

I am not here to weigh the benefits of new construction versus rehabilitation. And I am not here to discuss whether we ever intended to create a pedestrian walkway out of an old bridge.

But I am here to tell you, the four-lane bridge is the big prize right now.
Bossier Parish is leading the charge to make that happen, through collaboration efforts with the city as well as Caddo Parish and Shreveport to get an agreement together to help with light maintenance, like trash pickup, on the proposed linear park if the state will take up its share of liability and maintenance for the long term.

This new four-lane bridge is about that collaboration, about opportunity, and, about connection. The tangible connection benefits with the new four-lane bridge and linear park combination that go beyond the current configurations of connecting both walking and biking trails on both parkways and making a better connection across the Red River for LA 511. The other connection is C. Bickham Dickson Park in Caddo and the Red River Wildlife Refuge in Bossier, which are now part of the same system. The connection is for people who work in Shreveport and live in Bossier, and vice versa.

Perhaps the largest opportunity here is the great possibilities this linear park and new four-lane bridge have in connecting our twin cities. We cannot ignore any longer that our two cities and two parishes are connected and need that collaborative spirit we see going on to make this project happen.

The city, the parish and the state know this project will contribute to the continued growth of Bossier Parish. As an outlier in North Louisiana and the parish with the most growth north of the Capitol, your officials are capitalizing on that position to bring resources home to the parish.

The prize is in sight – a new four-lane bridge. And with perseverance and collaboration, this opportunity can become a reality.

Lisa Johnson is President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.

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