Louisiana House approves bill OK’ing local bridge authority

| 6/5/2007

With transportation officials in Louisiana struggling to find money to pay for road and bridge projects throughout the state, a bill halfway through the statehouse would help foot the bill for a bridge over the Ouachita River.

The House unanimously approved a bill that would authorize the creation of the Ouachita Expressway Authority. It has been forwarded to the Senate for further consideration.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, the bill would allow the authority to sell bonds to build a fourth bridge over the river separating Monroe and West Monroe. It also would be authorized to accept state and federal funding and to sell revenue bonds to pay for the bridge project that will link state Route 143 with U.S. 165.

With a price tag of about $110 million, the project wouldn’t necessarily be a toll road, The News Star in Monroe, LA, reported. The bill would give the authority power to borrow money and dedicate revenues to paying off bonds.

The authority also would have the ability to take land by eminent domain and acquire land by negotiation with landowners. It would be subject to all state public bid and ethics laws, The News Star reported.

The bill – HB626 – is in the Senate Local and Municipal Affairs Committee.