HEARING SLATED TO DISCUSS BUDGET

BY VICKIE PEOPLES

vpeoples@americanpress.com

 

There will be a public hearing about the annual budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, on Monday, May 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers, 500 North Huntington St.

 

In the general fund budget, Kevin Alley said they are projecting total revenues to be $22,004,000 and total expenditures to be $21,451,000 before transfers.

 

“We have a total surplus of $552,000,” Alley said. “We have an $180,000 transfer out to the fire department set aside for a future fire truck, we have $166,000 set aside for the police department training facility and then another $150,000. After those transfers, we’re looking at a surplus of almost $57,000.”

 

In other council news, Patricia Prebula of Prebula Public Relations spoke to the Sulphur City Council Monday about the I-10 Calcasieu bridge “In for 10” campaign. 

 

She said there are problems with the I-10 and 210 bridges. “We can’t wait another 10 years,” she said.

 

The I-10 bridge was built in 1952 under Earl K. Long and it had a life expectancy of 50 years. It has exceeded that life expectancy. “It is unsafe.

 

There’s no place to pull over. It’s traveled by 53,000 vehicles per day, and they’re expecting by 2025 that that’s supposed to increase to 72,000 vehicles per day.”

 

The I-10 bridge is on the National Bridge Registry. “It’s saying that the bridge is in serious condition. The structure is in serious condition. It’s basically intolerable, requiring high priority of corrective action,” said Prebula.

 

Prebula said the problem is going to get worse because of increased traffic and congestion once the renovations of the I-210 bridge get underway.

 

“Basically, right now, there’s no funding and no design plans,” said Prebula. She stressed that this project is important because I-10 is the gateway into the energy capital of South Louisiana and is a major thoroughfare.

 

She asked for the council’s support to create a sense of urgency to fast track the project and rebuild the I-10 bridge. “Our plan is to build a unified coalition. We’re going to be talking to civic organizations, municipalities. We need resolutions.” She said they are going to need funding and to raise awareness.

 

ONLINE: www.infor10.org

 

‘It is unsafe. There’s no place to pull over. It’s traveled by 53,000 vehicles per day, and they’re expecting by 2025 that that’s supposed to increase to 72,000.’

PATRICIA PREBULA

Prebula Public Relations speaking of the I-10 bridge

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CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO BUILD SUPPORT FOR NEW INTERSTATE 10 BRIDGE

BY CRYSTAL STEVENSON

cstevenson@americanpress.com

 

The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance launched its “In for 10” campaign Wednesday to build support for a new Interstate 10 bridge over the Calcasieu River.

 

“This effort is designed to get citizens to sign on and show their support, working with elected officials at every level,” said George Swift, alliance president and CEO. “It’s an important issue not only for us in Southwest Louisiana, but really it impacts the nation because we are truly the energy corridor.”

 

Swift said U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany and U.S. Sen. David Vitter have already lent their support.

 

“This is not something new,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for years and years and years. I think we’ve reached a point where it’s time to really step up and get this in motion.”

 

The current bridge, built in 1952, was deemed “basically intolerable” in 2009 by the National Bridge Inventory.

 

“It’s structurally sound, we’re told, but we all know it’s unsafe,” Swift said.

 

A recent study found at least 53,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

 

More than 20,000 more vehicles are expected to cross the bridge daily within the next eight to nine years, Swift said.

 

“We have declining capacity and increased congestion coming to our area,” he said. “We have so much happening in Southwest Louisiana with projects and growth coming that’s going to put even more pressure on the I-10 bridge.”

 

Swift said construction on the decking of the I-210 bridge is expected to begin this summer and will take about two years to complete.

 

“At best, one lane in each direction on the 210 bridge will be open, but from what we’ve heard all of the truck traffic will be diverted to the I-10 bridge. This is going to really put more impact and pressure on the I-10 bridge.”

 

Swift said the main delay in replacing the bridge is litigation over a 1994 ethylene dichloride pipeline leak around the area under the bridge.

 

“The big issue before us is the environmental impact,” Swift said. “That has been the key to getting this resolved because there was a chemical spill and remediation has got to be dealt with before anything else can be done.”

 

Todd Landry, District 7 administrator for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said contamination cleanup is underway under the bridge. “It’s ongoing, but they are working on cleanup,” Landry said. “And they test as they go.”

 

An environmental impact statement had been underway since March 2012, but is being delayed until mid-2017 due to a navigational use study, Swift said.

 

“As it stands now, it could be another 20 years before a new bridge is built,” Swift said. “Since 1980, we have heard about plans to rebuild the I-10 bridge. This community can no longer wait.”

ALLIANCE lAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR NEW I-10 CALCASIEU RIVER BRIDGE

By Liz Koh

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

The Southwest Economic Development Alliance launched a new a campaign to increase urgency for a new I-10 Calcasieu River bridge between Lake Charles and Westlake.

It's called "In For 10." 

The announcement was made in front of city and state officials on Wednesday in Lake Charles. 

The purpose of the campaign is to build support for a new I-10 bridge, which has been long overdue, said George Swift, president of the Alliance. With the economic expansion taking place in Southwest Louisiana, it's crucial to get the ball rolling on this project, he said.

“We're going to have a lot more vehicles, trucks and increased traffic," Swift said. "The pressure on the I-10 bridge is going to be more than ever so we need to start as soon as possible to resolve the environmental issues that are holding up the construction and then to get into the design and function.”

Underground contamination from an ethylene dichloride spill in 1994 has been an obstacle for a new bridge.

The campaign's coalition intends to figure out what the status is for the contamination so they can move forward with the bridge project.

"What we hope to do is have this coalition to support our elected officials in the state Department of Transportation to get this project done," Swift said.

Liz Koh will have more on this story at Live at Five and 7News at Six.

Copyright 2016 KPLC. All rights reserved.

RISING FOR A NEW I-10 BRIDGE

Lake Charles, LA – Today, the Southwest Economic Alliance announced its “In for 10” campaign to build support and urgency for a new I-­‐10  Calcasieu Bridge.  

 

“The I-­‐10 bridge is important to the Southwest Louisiana community and our infrastructure,” said George Swift, President & CEO SWLA Economic Development Alliance. “The Calcasieu bridge is the gateway into the energy capital of the South and now is the time to rebuild the bridge as we experience unprecedented economic growth.”

 

As it stands now, it could be another 20 years before a new bridge is built. Since 1980, we have heard about plans to rebuild the I-­‐10 bridge.  This community can no longer wait. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been underway since March 2012 and is currently delayed until mid 2017 due to the Navigational Use Study. In addition, other state highway projects are taking priority ahead of a new I-­‐10  Calcasieu bridge.  Currently, there is no funding or plan design.

 

Swift stated, “The “In for 10” campaign will clear environmental issues, complete the design phase and identify funding for the project. Our goal is to work collaboratively with our local, parish and state agencies and the Southwest Louisiana community stakeholders to fast track and rebuild the I-­‐10  bridge.”

“The Southwest Economic Development Alliance is coordinating a communications campaign that is necessary for this project to move forward,” said Mayor Chris Duncan, City of Sulphur. “I personally travel to Lake Charles several times a week and sometimes my visits coincide with traffic congestion making it more difficult to get over that bridge. I definitely support rebuilding the I-­‐10  Calcasieu Bridge.”

 

The “In for 10” campaign will begin immediately to generate support through communications and presentations to civic organizations, municipalities and parish governments throughout Southeast Texas and the State of Louisiana.

 

Visit www.infor10.org and LIKE us on Facebook to stay connected and show your support for a new I-­‐10  bridge.

Contact:          Amanda White

                        awhite@allianceswla.org

                        337-­‐433-­‐3632

PILOT PROJECT HOPES TO IMPROVE VISIBILITY ON I-10 BRIDGE

By Theresa Schmidt, KPLC

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - They are called barrier alert or median alert devices and their inventor said they're a cost effective way to make the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge safer.

 

Installation is expected to begin Wednesday night.

 

To many people, the I-10 bridge is scary enough during the daytime, but as this nighttime video shows, it's quite dark on the bridge. But Greg Driskell's invention will be wrapped around the bridge median to increase visibility.

 

"It's flexible as you can see. What it does is it goes around that barrier and creates kind of a top hat over it. And what that does is it actually shows the shape of that barrier on the bridge, so again the driver gets a clear, concise message as the size and shape, not just the location, and that there's something there or a structure there,"said Driskell, president of Professional Pavement Products Inc.

 

He said the reflective surface is much brighter than traditional reflectors and it gets brighter the closer you get to it with your headlights.

 

"These little elements here," he explained, pointing to the yellow reflective components, "these are the elements that are anywhere between 3,000- 5,000 times brighter than traffic paint and beads that they use on roadways. It also has a coating on it and that coating keeps it from being scratched up," said Driskell. "It's visibility comes from your headlights so what happens is that headlight hits the device, hits the reflective material and comes back to the driver."

 

Putting the barrier alerts on the I-10 bridge is a pilot project but Driskell predicts it will make a major difference for many drivers.

 

"Let's say you're driving home after working all day, and you're exhausted. Your vision is going to be affected by that. If you're an older driver, your vision is affected. If you're a truck driver and you're up higher, your vision is affected. If you're an emergency response person, a police department or fire department, you're at a higher rate of speed, so all those things play a part in the dangers of crossing any bridge," he said.

 

Driskell said it also improves visibility in the rain.

 

So, if all goes according to plans, it should be a lot easier to see the barrier after Wednesday night.

 

Copyright 2015 KPLC All rights reserved

I-10 BRIDGE PROJECT: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT PROCESS BEGINS

By Theresa Schmidt, KPLC

Will they build a new I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River? Or does underground chemical contamination make it too risky to replace the bridge?   Those are questions the state will ponder to write an environmental impact statement to guide the future. 

For years the state has been talking about a new, safer bridge to ease congestion.  One of the obstacles has been underlying chemical contamination and that's one of the issues  environmentalist mike Tritico brought to this meeting at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

"After thousands of pages have been blacked out, redacted, I finally got nine pages that confirmed what I suspected, which is that the edc plume that came from the big spill, that happened or at least was discovered in '94, that plume has gone beneath the Calcasieu River I-10 bridge, said Tritico.

Tritico is concerned it may threaten nearby drinking water in Westlake and clays under the bridge.

"Maybe the water supply of Westlake could be threatened by the edc spill but also, that the clay that supports the existing bridge or that would have to support any replacement bridge cannot support those bridges," said Tritico.

He brought his concerns to  what they call a public scoping meeting-- Step 5 of 22 toward completion of an environmental impact statement to be complete in 2016. 

Joubert Harris is an environmental man for the State.  He says the chemical contamination is one factor they'll have to consider. He says The state's environmental man says they do not have evidence the ethylene dichloride or 1, 2 dichloroethane below is jeopardizing the clays that support the bridge.

"We need to know if there's a way to address the known contamination before we can move forward within the process.  We will examine a number of alternatives one of which is a no build alternative.  So, at the end of the day, maybe we can't build a bridge.  But we do recognize that there's a need," said Harris.

Others here-- representatives of Friend Ships whose relief organization won't be able to come and go if they lower the height of the bridge as some want. 

Officials say now is the time for people to get involved if they want a say in what happens with the bridge. 
  
People have until November 4th to have their comments made part of the record from the meeting this week. 

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved

PLAN TO REPLACE I-10 CALCASIEU RIVER BRIDGE

By David Bray, KPLC

State transportation officials want input from area citizens about a plan to expand Interstate 10 and replace the aging Calcasieu River Bridge.

 

The plan calls for expanding I-10 between the two I-210 intersections which includes replacing the bridge that opened in 1952. 

 

DOTD officials say the department will conduct an environmental study and will take public input through Oct. 9.  

 

Copyright 2013 KPLC All rights reserved