DOTD pulls Jimmie Davis rehab project in lieu of new bridge

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has announced the cancellation of the contract for the Jimmie Davis Bridge rehabilitation project in order to divert the appropriated money towards the design and ultimate construction of a new bridge.

Here's the message from Governor John Bel Edwards:

I want to invest in real, long-term, common-sense transportation solutions that make the best use of our financial resources. By working with our state and local partners, we have developed a new strategy that will better serve Northwest Louisiana. The rehabilitation project would have spent more than $20 million and would not address the overall problem. I’m confident that this is the wisest investment for Louisiana and the best approach to address the transportation challenges in the Shreveport-Bossier region.

The DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson agrees with the decision:

After initial conversation with Sen. Barrow Peacock and Rep. Thomas Carmody, I had conversations with Mayors Ollie Tyler and Lo Walker, as well as with Kent Rogers, the director of the Metropolitan Planning Office, who all asked the State to reconsider the appropriation of the money for a new bridge. This new bridge will support long-term transportation solutions and add value to the communities of Shreveport-Bossier.

In an effort to keep options open for the allocation of money, Senator Peacock recently added language into House Bill 2 to allow for the money to be used either for maintenance of the current bridge, or towards the design and construction of a new bridge.

“A new modern four-lane Jimmie Davis Bridge will continue to allow our community to grow and prosper,” Senator Peacock said. “In addition, it will allow our daily commute and commerce to flow with speed and efficiency. I appreciate Governor Edwards, Secretary Wilson, Mayors Tyler and Walker, and David North, district administrator for the Bossier City DOTD office, for all working together for the benefit of Shreveport-Bossier.”

Cindy Dorfner with DOTD talked with 710 KEEL this morning about this change in direction:

While a final estimate for the new bridge isn’t available, funding will need to come from a combination of state and federal resources.

A timeline for the project is not yet available, but the most important step, according to Wilson, is to get the design process started.

The department will continue to perform maintenance on the Jimmie Davis Bridge, which sees nearly 19,000 travelers a day, as it will remain open during construction to minimize disruption to commuters and businesses in the community.