BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced Friday that $26.5 billion will be dedicated to states for investments in bridge repairs and other infrastructure improvements.
“Our bridges have been in desperate need of repair for decades. Today we take a giant step to secure the future of Louisiana infrastructure,” said Dr. Bill Cassidy. “When we listen to the needs of our state, we can deliver results that benefit all. Thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, a bridge is coming to a river near you.”
The Bridge Formula Program was created after the passage of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, a bipartisan spending bill signed into law last November. The program will allocate federal funds over five years to rural and urban bridges that are in need of repair or rehabilitation.
“Louisiana will be well served by this program, as our funding needs for infrastructure projects are immense,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “I applaud the Biden administration for seeing the transportation needs of our nation, and state, by launching this investment program that will greatly aid our communities. Bridge closures or weight restrictions severely hinder our agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries, as well a public transit, commuter travel, and school bus routes. Limiting closures will provide a better overall quality of life to our residents, motorists and businesses.”
The funding could improve approximately 400 bridges throughout the state with the $1 billion in funding that Louisiana will receive over five years, $202.6 million of that is allocated for this fiscal year.
“This new federal investment comes at the right time as many of our bridges, including those on the interstate system, are 45 to 65 years old,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “The number of bridges falling into poor condition is expected to increase greatly in the coming years and this funding will allow us to make necessary improvements before these bridges deteriorate to the point of closure. Having shared bridge closures with the public for some time, no parish is exempt and problems exist on state and local bridges alike. I am looking forward to using more than the minimum established by USDOT to help locals address their needs as well. This bipartisan bill will allow the state to address many infrastructure needs in the coming years and I am grateful for the work that Senator Bill Cassidy and Representative Troy Carter put in to get this bill passed and for their vision of infrastructure improvement in Louisiana. “
Some of the local bridge projects that will advance this year include:
· Jimmie Davis Bridge Replacement in Caddo Parish
· LA 531 over I-20 Bridge Replacement in Webster Parish
· LA 485 Bridges near Allen Louisiana (Natchitoches Parish)
· LA 1226 over Bayou Chevreuille in Natchitoches Parish
The Jimmy Davis Bridge is expected to receive $100 million in funding for much-needed repairs. Bridges were selected according to the structure’s age, the amount of traffic, and other factors according to La. DOTD.
Louisiana has the third-largest bridge infrastructure in the nation when the number of bridges and bridge size is accounted for. Currently, there are 7,846 state-owned bridges, with 795 needing major rehabilitation or replacement, and 4,736 locally-owned bridges, with 793 in need of rehabilitation or replacement.