BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, led a ceremony to mark the beginning of a $74.8 million project to paint and perform structural steel repairs to the U.S. 190 Old Mississippi River Bridge between Baton Rouge and Port Allen.
The ceremony was held at Cemus, LLC, where LeBas was joined by state and local officials to celebrate the project’s kickoff.
According to LeBas, the bridge, which carries an average of 28,600 commuters daily and links East and West Baton Rouge parishes, is part of a major freight corridor that is critical to the region and serves the entire state, connecting to I-10 and I-110 in Baton Rouge, to I-49 in Opelousas and to I-55 in Hammond. The bridge also serves as an alternate route to I-10 for east-west traffic.
LeBas said that painting and performing structural repairs to the bridge will extend the life of the bridge while improving the overall appearance of the structure and revitalizing the surrounding area for residents and businesses.
“The U.S. 190 Mississippi River Bridge is an essential connector for residents and businesses in the region. These improvements will not only improve the beauty of this bridge, but also extend the life of the bridge for generations to come,” she said.
The U.S. 190 connects Baton Rouge to Port Allen, and provides access to the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and the Port of Baton Rouge. Additionally, the bridge provides access to large businesses and industries in both East and West Baton Rouge parishes including ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Albemarle Corporation, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Baton Rouge Plastics, International Piping Systems, the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino, and the Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge.
“The Mississippi River Bridge on U.S. 190 is a critical link for this region,” said Rep. Regina Ashford Barrow. “This project will improve the appearance of the bridge and enhance commutes for businesses and residents in this area.”
Representative Major Thibaut agreed, adding that DOTD deserves credit for attending to the bridge and to the people of West Baton Rouge.
“I applaud DOTD for their continued investment in this region’s roads and bridges,” said Thibaut. “I appreciate the benefits that this project will have for the citizens of this area.”
Since 2008, an unprecedented $4.6 billion has been invested in Louisiana’s roads, bridges and overall transportation network. Additionally since January 2008, the state has invested more than $516 million in East and West Baton Rouge parishes.
“I am excited to see this project begin,” said Mayor Kip Holden. “It is a welcome improvement for the citizens of East and West Baton Rouge parishes. This facelift will provide a much-needed boost for the area.”
The first phase of the project, scheduled to begin in late September and be complete in fall 2014, will clean, paint and perform structural steel repairs to the roadway portion of the bridge. The project was awarded to Liberty Maintenance – Alpha Paint, a joint venture, for $74.8 million, which consists of 80% federal and 20% state funding.
The second phase of the project will involve painting, cleaning and repairs to the railroad portion of the bridge. DOTD anticipates accepting bids on this $15 million-$20 million project in late December 2012.
“Projects such as this help spur economic opportunities,” said West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot, Jr. “This one is of special significance as it will have a positive impact on both East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge parishes.”
The U.S. 190 Bridge is a combination highway-railroad bridge owned by DOTD. Railroad traffic across the bridge is managed by the Kansas City Southern Railroad and utilized by Union Pacific Railroad and Canadian National Railroad.
“Today’s announcement is a sign of continued improvement for our state and the southeast region in particular,” said Senator Rick Ward. “These improvements will enhance commutes for travelers crossing the bridge on a daily basis.”
“I would like to thank DOTD for the agency’s commitment to improving our infrastructure,” said Senator Yvonne Dorsey. “The completion of painting and repairs to the U.S. 190 Mississippi River Bridge will resonate with the communities who use this route daily.”
“The painted bridge will make mine and other commuters’ travels across the U.S. 190 Mississippi River Bridge a more pleasant experience,” said Rep. Dalton Honore. “It will improve the quality of life for residents and commuters and help to spur economic growth.”
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.