- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) - Construction on a planned Canada-to-Mexico highway may be two decades away, but a Louisiana mayor has started telling the public they need to get lawmakers to speed the process along.

Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker held the first of three public forums Wednesday to gather momentum for the planned expansion of Interstate 69, The Shreveport Times reports (https://bit.ly/1RgSX0D). About 30 people attended the forum at Bossier Civic Center. Walker is president of the I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition executive committee.

“I’m ready to get to work on I-69,” Walker said.

The highway would run about 2,000 miles from Michigan’s border with Canada, southward to Mexico, Walker said.

Construction could be a decade or two away, but Walker encouraged citizens to tell their representatives they support the project. The highway is estimated to cost Louisiana $29 billion, with state funds supplying 20 percent of the money.

“That’s the big elephant in the room,” Walker said.

In a meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, Walker said ideas such as repatriation of funds from outside of the U.S., toll roads and public-private partnerships were proposed. One clear message was to not look at a gasoline tax increase.

Max LeComte, executive committee vice president and Coordinating and Development Corporation president, said he is confident in I-69’s future because of its importance in the nation’s freight system. The Panama Canal is being deepened and widened, meaning eventually more foreign cargo ships will take that route to ports along the southern coast.

The highway would enter Louisiana from neighboring El Dorado, Ark. and travel southwest to Joaquin, Texas.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com


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