Category Archives: Latest News

CRISIS recommends regional projects to unclog traffic congestion in Capital City; biggest benefit would come from new Mississippi River bridge

A business and industry group lobbying for major upgrades to the Baton Rouge region’s transportation grid on Tuesday identified $3 billion in key highway improvements it says would unclog the capital city’s perennially stalled roads.

The cost-benefit analysis from CRISIS says multiple projects are needed, but the highest benefit would come from boosting highway capacity over the Mississippi River by building a new bridge costing up to $1.6 billion and increasing use of the U.S. 190 bridge.

While Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions officials suggested tolls could contribute to funding for the bridge and some other projects, the group’s executive director said new revenue sources — likely a higher gasoline tax — still would be necessary to provide the hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to pay for the projects.

“These are not cheap projects, but what we found out from the analysis is they provide a tremendous bang for the buck, and if we’re smart about it, we can really transform how the region really moves,” said K. Scott Kirkpatrick, executive director of CRISIS…

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by David J. Mitchell at the Advocate

Ascension officials again pushing for Iberville location for a new bridge in the proposed Baton Rouge Loop project

As the state and business groups mull the best location for a new Mississippi River bridge location south of Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish officials continued to press for a crossing south of Plaquemine that officials in neighboring Iberville also want.

Just days before another public comment period ends Monday on the long-churning Baton Rouge Loop environmental review process, the Ascension Parish Council petitioned federal highway officials for the Plaquemine crossing to remain in the highway’s final proposed corridor.

The 90- to 105-mile, toll-funded beltway would encircle the Baton Rouge area with interstate-style highways and two river crossings.

The Ascension Parish Council has once before stated its preference for the Plaquemine crossing, but the final proposed Loop corridor now up for comment eliminates that crossing in favor of two spots upriver in West Baton Rouge Parish.

In a resolution the council approved unanimously Thursday, Ascension Parish officials cited a future Plaquemine bridge’s proximity to riverside industrial facilities compared with preferred crossings upriver near Brusly and Addis.

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by David J. Mitchell at the Adovocate

West Side Expressway, new bridge, gaining traction

Traction is starting to build for a proposed new four-lane highway on the west side of the Mississippi and a new bridge across the river, but the speed bump on the plans may be the estimated price tag: $1.65 billion.

Talk of the new West Side Expressway and bridge began in earnest about five years ago, but the state Legislature only this year approved $1.65 million for a feasibility study of the proposed expressway, which would begin at Interstate 10 west of Port Allen and run to La. 1 south of Plaquemine.

A new Mississippi River bridge that’s part of the project would go from the west bank, between Plaquemine and White Castle, to the east bank, south of Baton Rouge.

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by ellyn couvillion at the Advocate

Holden: BR loop project on track

The multibillion-dollar Baton Rouge Loop project is on track and moving forward, Mayor-President Kip Holden said Monday after a meeting of the Capital Area Expressway Authority.

“This project is not dead by any stretch of the imagination,” Holden said. “We’re still on track for what we had originally proposed.”

The loop is a proposed 85-mile toll road surrounding Baton Rouge that supporters say will alleviate traffic problems.

Last year, the loop project took multiple blows when three of the five parish presidents serving on the authority’s board of directors — Ascension’s Tommy Martinez, Livingston’s Mike Grimmer and Iberville’s J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. — resigned.

A few months later, Gov. Bobby Jindal used his line-item veto to delete $5 million of state spending.

Mike Bruce, managing principal of ABMB Engineers which is one of the lead firms on the loop project, said it’s unclear if the loss of state money affected the timeline.

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by Rebekah Allen at the Advocate


No Iberville bridge? Ourso says he’ll pull out of BR Loop project

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said he would abandon the Baton Rouge Loop project unless it includes a Mississippi River bridge in Iberville Parish.

He told the Parish Council he was discouraged about the parish’s chances for a bridge after a recent meeting with a design engineer for the loop.

“We deserve better than that,” said Ourso, who serves on the Capital Area Expressway Authority’s Executive Committee with other area parish presidents. “I expect some answers by January…If he doesn’t tell me what I need to hear, then I will pull out of the loop.”

A new bridge between Plaquemine and White Castle has been under consideration. Currently, the authority is siding with representatives of the marine industry and the U. S. Coast Guard who favor a new crossing near Addis. That would give West Baton Rouge Parish three crossings within a 10-mile stretch.

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By Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter
Plaquemine Post South