Mississippi River South Bridge

The objective of the Mississippi River South Bridge project is to build a new bridge to ease Capital Region traffic by providing additional cross-river transportation in the Greater Baton Rouge area. The project seeks to find the ideal, feasible location to maximize daily usage.

Traffic Woes

In 2021, the TomTom annual traffic index ranked the Baton Rouge Area as having the fourth-worst traffic congestion in the country, despite being the nation’s 66th largest metro area. According to TRIP, a nonprofit that researches economic and technical data on transportation issues, congested roads cost Baton Rouge Area drivers more than $1 billion collectively each year in lost time and wasted fuel.

The MRB South Bridge Project

Timing and Process

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will narrow down the potential bridge crossings to two or three alternatives by May or June 2022 (click here to see the map of the 10 current alternatives), and enter the two-year federally-mandated environmental process, culminating in the Record of Decision in mid-2024. From then, considering a 5-7-year construction period, drivers could be crossing the Mississippi on a less-congested drive via a new South bridge as early as 2030 or 2031.

miss timeframe may 2022 copy

CONNECTORS

The bridge will connect a new route across the Mississippi River, from I-10 to I-10 via connector routes. On the west side of the river, LA 1 will serve as a connection to the new bridge, which will then link to LA 30 on the east side of the river. The project, however, ultimately goes far beyond simply bridging LA 1 and LA 30. The route creates a traffic-easing southern loop that bypasses the Baton Rouge city core and the bottleneck on the current bridge, connecting drivers directly to I-10 on the east and west sides of the river.

Both LA 30 and LA 1 are slated for capacity enhancements to facilitate greater traffic flow. DOTD is currently working through the environmental process so that both can be designed and funded in tandem. While much of the attention is on the bridge and its pre-approval process, importantly, work continues apace for upgrading these two connecting corridors concurrently.

THE COSTS AND FUNDING

Public-Private Partnerships

Déjà vu: or, haven’t we been here before?

In past years, there have been substantive conversations regarding I-10 bypasses, loops, and other traffic mitigation-oriented projects, but with minimal tangible results. This new bridge project is better positioned than prior efforts because of the glut of one-time funds, the potential for federal infrastructure matching grants, and a seemingly increased appetite for progress among leaders and lawmakers.

BRAC’s Position

Additional resources

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