Infrastructure.

The four legislators who provided members of the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce with a summary of the recent lawmaking session used the word as a jumping off point for all of their presentations at a luncheon last Wednesday.

The word has become synonymous with frustration with residents of the West Side, who have for years battled traffic congestion on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, the area’s primary means for crossing the river.

Two measures that made it through the long process and Sen. Rick Ward said both were the two most important bills to earn Gov. John Bel Edwards’ signature.

Both have been discussed for years without any action being taken—an extension connecting La. 415 with La. 1 south of the Intracoastal Canal Bridge and the other, and more pressing, is the construction of a new bridge across the Mississippi River south of the Wilkinson Bridge, commonly referred to as the “new bridge.”

“The reason they kept me up at night is they were important things that need to be done,” said state Sen. Rick Ward. “…These were by far the most important things that we did the session.”

His opinion was based on the “necessity of both of these projects that have needed for at least 20 years,” he continued.

Sen. Ed Price said his desire to get the important things done, “the things that need to get accomplished,” got the attention and support they needed.

He said, as did the others, they followed Ward’s lead as he pushed the two crucial infrastructure bills through the House and Senate.

“I’m proud to be able to work with him,” Price said. “We really have a good delegation” representing West Baton Rouge. “I’m glad that West Baton Rouge is going to benefit from these projects that should provide some relief from the traffic issues.”

State Rep. Edmond Jordan also harped on the infrastructure issues.

“I know this is going to sound like a broken record but the most important issue was 415, 415, 415,” he said.

Jordan broadened his presentation to include areas outside the West Side.

“One of the things that motivate me is continuing to make this the best state it can be,” he said, then turned his attention back to West Baton Rouge. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to represent the people of this district.”

“We all are motivated to do what is best for the people of West Baton Rouge,” Jordan said.                      

State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe, a newcomer to the House of Representatives who was elected to fill the remainder of Major Thibaut’s term, described his first experience in a legislative session as being much like being in a battle zone.

“I felt like I was in a foxhole and bullets were going all around me,” he said, but said it was a position he enjoyed. “It was a lifelong dream to represent the people of my district.”

“For me, walking in there was an honor from the beginning,” LaCombe said.

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