By Bonnie Culverhouse
La. Highway 532 has a new bridge over Interstate 20, and beginning in the Spring of 2022, persons traveling over I-20 on 531 will be using it a lot more.
David North, Region 04 director for Department of Transportation and Development, said bids on the 531 overpass are scheduled to be let in March.
“It will be a completely new bridge,” North said. “I asked the designer if he was going to use any of the structure that is there, and he said no, it will be completely new.”
A public hearing was held almost a decade ago concerning the overpass, which is when a possibility of three roundabouts was discussed – two on the north side and one on the south; however, some thought that to be excessive.
“Early on, when we talked about this, there were supposed to be three roundabouts,” North said. “They’ve cut it down to two adjacent to the interstate.”
North said DOTD had hoped to let the project for bids soon, but an environmental issue delayed it.
“It had to do with fuel storage tanks at an old truck stop north of the overpass,” he said. “It’s just part of environmental remediations associated with things like this.”
North described the overpass as “a serious project.”
“It will take at least a year and a half,” he said. “There again, it depends on the contractor, when they start and the weather.
“The prices we are seeing may also determine whether or not we (DOTD) can afford it,” North continued. “We are seeing prices that are shocking. There is so much uncertainty right now. Contractors have a great deal of risk when they take on a job. They have uncertain labor markets, and prices are just as volatile as they can be.”
When prices and labor are uncertain, it ups the contractors’ risks, he explained.
“Accounting for that has to be in dollars for them, so you are seeing prices that are unusual,” he said.
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