The word infrastructure is getting a lot of attention these days.
Since he started campaigning for the country’s top job, President Trump has talked about investing in infrastructure. Yesterday, the Trump administration released a 55 page, $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
In The Advocate, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson was recently quoted as saying the Bayou State is “totally unprepared” when asked about the president’s proposed bill, which would require state matches on projects.
For the record, a report published in 2016 by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment found that, at present state funding levels, it would take Louisiana 327 years to finance the replacement of bridges that have a 50-year design life.
Therefore, Southwest Louisiana residents should be applauding the state for its decision to move forward with several infrastructure projects that will have positive economic development implications afterward.
For instance, bids for the Interstate 210 Prien Lake Bridge rehabilitation will be released in June. DOTD officials estimate the project will take three years to complete and cost $30 million.
When finished, a 930-foot portion of the 50-year-old bridge will be redecked along with barrier rail upgrades, light installation, and the addition of a narrow walkway for inspections (which are mandated by the federal government).
Before this project begins, DOTD will have to improve the Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge. State officials want to spend $9.5 million in order to conduct expansion joint repairs on the bridge because it will be the primary transportation route during the I-210 project.
The public should understand, the work on I-10 is not the much needed replacement that has been held up due to environmental concerns and the state’s financial problems.
Other projects that DOTD is moving forward with in our area include:
- Work on I-10 west of La. 108 to the I-210 interchange. The $15 million project includes pavement replacement/overlay, bridge replacement, roadway widening, and auxiliary lanes. Bids go out in March of 2019.
- Repairs of I-10 overpass at Lockmoor near PPG Drive. The $2.5 million project is expected to take 18 months.
- $2.7 million interstate lighting project at the I-10/I-210 junction to the Prien Lake Bridge. The project is 96 percent complete.
- $8.3 million project for La. 27 and La. 1256 including widening for two-way left turn, northbound turning lane at Patton Street, base stabilization and asphalt overlay, and minor drainage work. The project in Sulphur is 75 percent complete.
- Six-laning of I-10 from the Texas state line to east of Coone Gully (near Lake Charles). The $65 million project is expected to take 18 months and bids will go out in July of 2019.
- $7.1 million installation of a cable barrier system in the I-10 median from Vinton to Jennings. Bids went out this month.
All of these infrastructure projects are important to the economic vitality of the region. Each is needed, even long overdue. But we want to consider Wilson’s quote and realize that our business community can’t be totally unprepared for the work that will eventually ensue.
For instance, the Nelson Road corridor will experience impacts when the I-210 Bridge is slowed, due to one lane being closed on each side during construction.
Now is the time to prepare for traffic issues that can hinder commerce.
The Alliance implores all business owners to save funds, tweak business plans, invest in marketing and upgrade social media plans ahead of construction.
Prepare today in order to take advantage of tomorrow’s business windfall that will occur with upgraded infrastructure.