John Bel Edwards Has A Bridge He Wants To Sell To The Folks In Bossier City

Buy it if you want, but know that you’re going to get scammed.

Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development 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.

“I want to invest in real, long-term, common-sense transportation solutions that make the best use of our financial resources,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“By working with our state and lo-cal 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 over-all 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 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,” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “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 money quote…

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

“We always knew that the investment in maintenance of the current bridge would make the request for a new bridge less competitive,” Wilson said. “The step to forgo the rehabilitation project allows us to start the design process as soon as possible with the money we have.”

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

Our buddy John Kay, who heads up the Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity, absolutely nailed this to the wall…

Let me spoil the ending of this for you.

You aren’t getting a new bridge, the governor is using this as leverage to raise the gas tax. Wait and see.

Yep.

Refurbishing a current bridge costs less money than building a new bridge. The state can afford to refurbish the old bridge.

The new bridge is far, far more expensive. The state does not have the money for the new bridge.

So you either get the same crappy bridge you have now, and it steadily gets worse because the state doesn’t take care of its assets hardly at all, or you consent to being gouged at the gas pump in order that John Bel Edwards gets to build monuments to himself and tout the new construction as proof he’s the salve for what ails the state.

Not to mention that Foster Campbell, Edwards’ endorsee in the Senate race, has an issue he can mobilize voters around in that part of the state, as does the Democrat candidate for the 4th District congressional race. It’ll be all about pork.

Nobody in Louisiana should be under any illusions about any grand, costly infrastructure projects getting built any time soon without gargantuan tax increases. The state’s backlog on infrastructure is in the teens of billions. The small stuff is what can be handled now, until there is the next rush of cash into the treasury from hurricane recovery or oil spiking over $100 a barrel (and even then it would appear most of that windfall would go into Edwards’ newly-filled honey pot at the Department of Health and Hospitals).

But on the false promise of a new bridge, the folks in the northwestern part of the state have given up on the idea of fixing the decrepit bridge they have. Within a year or two, if not much less, you’ll hear a lot of crisis-mongering about how unsafe and obsolete that old bridge is and how there’ll be dead kids in the Red River any minute unless taxes go up to pay for the new one.

We’d say don’t fall for it, but it looks like the local leadership already has.

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