State looks to improve roads, bridges with billions in new funding

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Construction along Louisiana’s roads and highways is expected to increase. It comes as the state receives $7 billion from the federal infrastructure package that now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

“Improvement is definitely needed, especially in the, like around the downtown area on Interstate 10, it gets horrible with the merge from Interstate 10 and I-110,” said Baton Rouge resident Kay Baker.

Locals and those who frequent Baton Rouge know the headache that comes with traveling up and down Louisiana’s state roads and bridges.

“The traffic is so bad that you have to get off the interstate just to try to get around the traffic,” said Baker.

Help is now on the way after the House recently passed an infrastructure bill with Louisiana receiving more than $7 billion dollars. 

“We are doing the things that Louisiana has always talked about that elected officials have always asked us to do and finally, we got some dollars to do it,” said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson.

“It includes, for example, completing the sixth lane of I-12 from the Amite to the Pearl. Doing lots of approach work and off-ramp work at the Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge,” Senator Bill Cassidy added.

Wilson said they will have to leverage the dollars to maximize impact.

“We would love to see as much as we can for a new bridge, given the restraints and timeline we have. But, until we see the language that will govern those dollars, I can’t promise you we can spend it on specific projects,” he explained.

They are also hoping to cut down on travel time and accidents with this money.

“It is well overdue and much needed,” Baker expressed.

When the money is put to use, Shawn said people will have to be patient because it may get worse before it gets better.

“We secondly ask people to be prepared for construction zones somewhere near you because they are going to be popping up and we want you to be safe,” he said.

Wilson said he expects the money for these projects to start rolling in the next six to nine months.

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