Louisiana Legislature approves bill to rein in bridge deals

| 6/4/2008

The Louisiana House sent a bill to Gov. Bobby Jindal that would address concern about the possible sale or lease of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

House lawmakers voted unanimously to approve changes to a bill that would require legislative approval prior to any deals to sell or lease bridges in the state. The Senate removed a provision in the bill that applied the rule solely to bridges more than five miles long.

The bill – HB1081 – also would require lawmakers to give prior approval of deals that transfer management, control or operation of bridges to public or private groups.

Citing concerns about confidential talks between Causeway officials and a Baton Rouge, LA, company about buying or operating the 24-mile-long span that links Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, supporters say the legislation is needed, The Times-Picayune reported.

Others say there is concern such a deal would lead to higher tolls.

The bill would not prohibit contracts from being signed for bridge repairs, maintenance, cleaning or other work. Tolls also could be collected.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor