IBERVILLE PARISH – Officials with the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) say environmental studies for a new bridge over the Mississippi River will take longer than initially planned.
Earlier this week, it announced the environmental evaluations that began in Fall 2022 had its deadline pushed to December 2024. The evaluations were supposed to be completed by the middle of 2024.
The locations for the new bridge have been narrowed down to three areas, all in Iberville Parish. All three connect LA 1 with LA 30.
“The most important thing is they’re going through the necessary processes on what they need to do,” said Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso. “The big question is Governor Edwards is leaving this year. He supported and funded much of this stuff here with the bridge. The big question is, who will be the governor next year, and will that governor, he or she, support this bridge? That’s the big question.”
Ourso said he’s thrilled the three potential locations are all in Iberville Parish, but the uncertainty surrounding the new governor brings concerns, although it’s out of his control.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he said. “There’s no use worrying about something I can’t control. I hope whoever the governor is can keep the ball rolling with these three locations. And if not, they can move them somewhere else. That’s their prerogative. I’ve been in here 26 years, and I’ve been fighting for this bridge for that long.”
Ourso said a decision on the bridge site will be made at the end of 2024. He said the proposed bridge should take roughly 25 to 30 percent from the Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge. He said it’ll take seven to 10 years to complete once construction begins.
That means even if construction were to begin by 2025, the earliest a new bridge could be ready is at least 2032.
DOTD says this proposed new bridge will primarily benefit local drivers, who make up 80 percent of traffic in the Greater Baton Rouge area.