Congressman Garret Graves talked traffic and solutions at the Wednesday, May 30 West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“It was no secret 30 years ago that we needed a new bridge and we needed a new crossing,” Graves said in his address.
He described the current state of transportation in the capital region as a crisis, one that is strangling the local economy. But it is also one Graves, Sen. Rick Ward and regional parish presidents are working to solve.
“We’re actually making progress,” Graves said. “Things aren’t happening as fast as you would like them to or I would, but we’re making progress.”
The construction of a new bridge moved one step further last week upon Gov. John Bel Edwards’ signature to create of the Capital Area Road and Bridge District. The five-parish regional authority is tasked with finding financing solutions for traffic relief in the region and requires a new bridge to be the centerpiece of the project.
Prerequisite work like improvements to the entrance ramp and relocation of the Washington Street exit are underway.
“We can’t just build a bridge and then stick them on these same old congested roads,” Graves said. “We have to make improvements here and to LA 1 so people can actually get to the bridge.”
Sen. Ward, Graves and the five-parish presidents have been working to secure additional funding for the project through federal grants, Graves said. Sen. Ward sponsored the Senate bill creating the Capital Area Road and Bridge District.
“We cannot continue to live in transportation infrastructure that was prepared for the 1960s and 70s. We need transportation infrastructure in place for 2030 and for 2040.” Graves said. “Not just addressing the traffic woes we have now but truly planning for the future.”