Transportation Symposium updates residents on road projects across region, state

By Stacey Tinsley, BIZ. Magazine

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce hosted an update Wednesday, Sept. 22 on transportation and infrastructure projects from around the region and state.

The Transportation Symposium, presented by Barksdale Federal Credit Union at Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites in Bossier City, updated attendees on the Jimmie Davis Bridge, Interstate 49, Interstate 69, 3132 Inner Loop Extension, and parish and city roadways. 

Speakers for the event were Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary, Dr. Shawn Wilson, Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) Executive Director, J. Kent Rogers, Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford, and Bossier City Engineer Ben Rauschenbach.

Dr. Wilson kicked off the symposium by discussing projects that are taking place locally and the Infrastructure Investment and the Jobs Act (IIJA).

He made a point to note that the new Jimmie Davis bridge is “on the way” and funded, saying it will be a “world class” project.

“We all know that infrastructure matters. We know what happens when you don’t invest in infrastructure. Things break, things cost more, people leave, businesses go elsewhere, the economy suffers. Infrastructure ‘is’ economic development,” Dr. Wilson said. “The IIJA is good for Louisiana. Funds from IIJA will be used to fully or partially fund the mega  projects in the Statewide Transportation Plan.”

Following Dr. Wilson’s remarks, Rogers discussed the mega projects, including the inner city connector for I-49.

“The inner city connector for I-49. We’re still in the environmental process. Currently there are three alternatives on the table. One is the build through alternative, the second is the loop around alternative, and of course with all projects, there’s a no build alternative that we have to consider. Probably the biggest hurdle we’ve been going through with this project is called a cultural resource,” said Rogers. 

Following Rogers remarks, Ford then updated the audience about Parish infrastructure projects and revealed that U.S. Census data has Bossier’s growth slowing down.

“We just got our growth census information today, and Bossier Parish is now the eighth fastest growing parish in the state. We dropped down a little bit, but we are growing,” Ford said. “But on the other hand, revenue is up. Sales tax revenue is up because of homes and people spending money after last year’s pandemic.”

Rauschenbach then concluded the Transportation Symposium with Bossier City infrastructure updates.

He noted that one of the largest projects underway is the Walter O. Bigby Carriage Way. The first phase of that is complete and the city is currently preparing to break ground on phase 2.

“Currently we have over $136M in ongoing design and construction projects. Over $127M is currently under construction. Nine projects are in the design or bid phase, 18 projects are under construction and seven subdivisions are in or nearing the construction phase,” Rauschenbach said.

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