Would You Pay a Toll to Get a New Jimmie Davis Bridge?
Residents of south Bossier and Shreveport have been waiting years to see improvements to the Jimmie Davis Bridge. The latest plan is to build a new bridge next to the existing bridge to ease traffic in a growing part of our community.
But recently a marketing company has been conducting a telephone survey asking residents if they would support a toll to pay for the new bridge. Who is behind this and is it a possibility? The idea was tossed out during a transportation meeting in Baton Rouge over the summer. A Denver based company called United Bridge Partners is pitching the idea of entering into an agreement to build the bridge and collecting money from a toll. This is a new strategy in the transportation business. This would be a privately owned bridge. United Bridge would pay for it, but would then collect the money from the toll for 75 years. This plan would not cost the state any money.
On its website, United Bridge Partners is described as an independent infrastructure and operating company which invests Private Bridge Capital in the Renovation of Obsolete Bridges.
Senators Robert Mills and Barrow Peacock are against any such plan to privatize the bridge and charge residents a toll.
The panel asked the company to survey to public to see if there is any support at all for putting a toll on the bridge. That is apparently what is happening right now as local residents have been getting calls from a marketing company pitching the idea.
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson tells KEEL News:
There is an unsolicited proposal to construct the Jimmie Davis Bridge that was presented to the Louisiana Transportation Authority a couple of months ago. The Authority did not advance the proposal but asked they conduct outreach in the area of the project. I am not privy to all they have done to satisfy that request but I am aware they commissioned a poll to assess public interest or support for what they have proposed. The department has not seen the poll or been part of the effort