- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development must look at three other locations for a proposed fourth Ouachita River bridge after a consulting firm’s study indicated there are some environmental concerns with the current location.

DOTD District Engineer Marshall Hill tells The News-Star (https://tnsne.ws/1jif2fT ) the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have now requested DOTD evaluate all possible bridge locations in light of a recent report to determine which of the proposed routes the connector will take.

Arcadis’ report stated the other locations should be studied further since they have not been “substantively evaluated.”

The current route is still a viable option, but EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers want to rule out other routes, Hill said.

The current proposal for the fourth bridge would have it connect U.S. 165 to Louisiana 143 at Whites Ferry Road in West Monroe and Finks Hideaway Road in Monroe. This route puts the bridge through an area of wetlands, which is the main environmental concern, Hill said. Because of this, a large part of the bridge would have to elevated over Chauvin Bayou, significantly increasing the cost.

“We’re looking at $300 million if it’s elevated, so with that cost we have to look at all locations,” Hill said.

Arcadis will evaluate three other options in the urban areas of Monroe and West Monroe. One is widening Interstate 20 to four lanes each direction. Another is a fourth bridge in an undetermined location, but parallel to the Lea Joyner Memorial Bridge. The third option is a bridge that connects West Monroe near the Union Parish line to Monroe at U.S. 165 north of Black Bayou.

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Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com

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