Stacey Tinsley, email@example.com
State Senator Barrow Peacock (R-Bossier City) says funding for south Bossier’s Jimmie Davis Bridge was not sacrificed for I-49.
Local media reports surfaced Wednesday that said $100 million in funding earmarked for Jimmie Davis Bridge in House Bill 578 of this year’s legislative session was moved to fund the inner-city connector of I-49 at the expense of the long-awaited bridge.
Peacock said the $100 million installed for the Jimmie Davis Bridge that was amended to go toward the inner-city connector is part of an effort to leverage federal funds that will see both projects completed.
“Basically by doing this, we’re trying to leverage the $100 million to work with our federal partners and then also use the money that has been in Capital Outlay, House Bill 2, to leverage and complete a new Jimmie Davis bridge which is desperately needed,” Peacock explained.
“I see this as we can do more than one project at a time for our community. It’s not putting one project against the other, it’s doing the most we can with the resources we have,” he added. “We need to leverage our dollars and put as much of the resources to work versus just using state dollars locally. We need to use state dollars and have that matched with federal dollars.”
House Bill 2, the Capital Outlay budget, contains $23,991,700, which has been capped for the planning, design, and construction of a new Jimmie Davis Bridge. The $23,991,700 would act as 20 percent from the state to leverage $95,966,800 as the remaining 80 percent from the federal government. Thus, providing $119,958,500 as the total funds for a new bridge.
“The idea is whenever you’re doing these projects, especially as with the Jimmie Davis Bridge, DOTD has been doing environmental assessments. They’ve been doing that in order to get in line to use our state dollars for match money with the federal dollars,” said Peacock.
House Bill 578, which originally contained funding for only two projects in the state, had another eight projects added throughout Louisiana added when it came through the Senate Finance Committee. That saw $100 million dollars, allocated from settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, added for the Jimmie Davis Bridge.
Peacock said he and his Northwest Louisiana Delegation colleagues realized that was money that could be used with federal dollars to do more projects. That is when they agreed to put that $100 million toward the inner-city connector of I-49 and use it for the state portion for the 3.8 miles connecting I-20 and I-220.
“So when you use that $100 million that we amended in the bill, saying put it toward the I-49, then you have that $100 million from the state, which would be 20 percent and then you would be able to get 80 percent with the federal match which would be $400 million, so you would have $500 million going toward the inner-city connector,” Peacock added.
He explains that HB578 prior to amending for I-49 would have had $123,991,700 to spend on the Jimmie Davis Bridge, but it would have not been able to attract federal money. And it would have all but removed the ability to secure federal funding for the I-49 inner-city connector.
“So, you basically would have spent $495,966,800 less in the Shreveport-Bossier area on infrastructure projects by not being able to leverage state dollars with federal dollars,” said Peacock.
Peacock noted that both of theses projects should propel the economic growth of the Bossier and Shreveport community.
“Traffic across the Jimmie Davis bridge is 25,000-plus cars per day. South Bossier is growing,” Peacock says. “Also, there has been economic studies showing the inner city connector for I-49 will bring economic activity into the heart of our community. We want people to see downtown Shreveport-Bossier.”
Regardless of the maneuvering in Baton Rouge, Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), said funding will be an issue.
“I do not have enough money for Jimmie Davis, nor do I have enough money for I-49 North,” said Dr. Wilson.