Thank you for publishing my earlier letter regarding the Intracoastal Canal bridges. I have received a very nice letter from Parish President Riley Berthelot in which he reviewed the numerous actions that have been taken over the last several years regarding these bridges. Unfortunately, these actions have not yet been sufficient to obtain funding for the necessary construction.
In my previous letter, I did not mention the economic impact that would ensue if these rickety, crumbling bridges ceased to be available. Please consider:
· Large numbers of people who live in Addis or Brusly work in Baton Rouge. They would be unable to get to work.
· Large numbers of people who work at Dow and the other plants that have grown up around Dow would be unable to get to work.
· The giant chemical complex that include Dow and other adjacent plants might have to cease operation if these bridges ceased to be available.
There is of course much more but I cannot put everything into one letter.
President Berthelot informed me that House Bill 578 has subsequently been introduced into the Louisiana House of Representatives that would provide $25 million in funding annually for these bridges. Senator Ward is one of the co-authors of that bill. That much dedicated funding would allow bonds to be issued to provide funding to start construction of new bridges immediately.
We need to pull together to get this bill through the legislature. HB 578 has been assigned to the House Committee on Appropriations. The most important work is done by committees. What can we do to get it passed by the committee?
The West Baton Rouge Parish Council can give its support to this bill with a resolution and other appropriate actions.
· The city councils of Port Allen, Brusly, and Addis can give support to this bill with a resolution and other appropriate actions.
· The public relations officials of impacted industry can make known to the committee the adverse impact of bridge closure on their industry.
· Civic organizations such as the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the West Baton Rouge Garden and Civic Club, and other such organizations can give support to this bill.
· The emails of the 27 Appropriations Committee members are available on the legislature’s website. We need to flood them with emails in support of HB 578. Who can organize that?
· We need some organization to get a lot of T-shirts made that indicate support for new bridges over the Intracoastal. Then we need to get the committee room packed with people from our parish wearing those T-shirts when the bill is considered.
We would have to do the same thing again when it goes to the Senate committee.
If we support our senator and our parish president by doing those things, I think we could get some new bridges. It is up to us to get this done.