I-10 CALCASIEU BRIDGE TOLLS
The administration is proposing a toll on Interstate 10 at the Calcasieu Bridge.
ABOUT THE CALCASIEU RIVER BRIDGE
Officially named the “Louisiana Memorial World War II Bridge” the Calcasieu River bridge is also known as the “I-10 bridge” because of its location on Interstate 10 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The bridge opened in 1952 originally to connect Highway 90 between Lake Charles and Westlake, Louisiana over the Calcasieu River. The bridge features a through truss design and has a total length of over 6,600 feet. In 2009, the measured average annual daily traffic was 51,800 with daily crossings over 90,000.
Since 1992 the rating of the bridge has deteriorated and has been listed by the Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory (NBI) as “structurally deficient.” The NBI also gave the bridge a 6.6 rating out of 100 that it still has today. Following these ratings, the speed limit has been dropped to 50 mph on the bridge, with heavy trucks being limited to the right lane. The lane restriction, as well as the ramp that merges east-bound, have caused a bottleneck and overall severe congestion on the bridge – all accumulating to excess weight and added stress on the already weakened bridge.
Following the NBI rating, the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LA DOTD) began a multimillion-dollar repair project that was completed in 2012. Following these repairs, the LA DOTD declared the bridge safe with plans to replace the aging bridge.
Current plans for financing the construction of the new Calcasieu River bridge by the current Administration include the implementation of a toll, creating a tolled portion of the I-10 interstate system. Currently, there are limited routes to easily cross the Calcasieu River and navigate to Interstate 10, especially for large and overside vehicles and equipment. Truckers and members of Louisiana and the nation’s transportation industry depend on this corridor of I-10, for commerce out of the Port of Lake Charles and also in the connection of the supply chain throughout Texas, south Louisiana and the entirety of the Gulf Coast.
TOLLING I-10 CALCASIEU RIVER BRIDGE
Following years of failed National Bridge Inventory (NBI) ratings and temporary repairs, it is widely agreed that the aging Calcasieu River Bridge has passed beyond its intended service life and is in need of replacement.
Current plans for financing the construction of the new Calcasieu River bridge by the Administration include the implementation of a toll, creating a tolled portion of the I-10 interstate system. Currently, there are limited routes to easily cross the Calcasieu River and navigate to Interstate 10, especially for large and overside vehicles and equipment. This would create a mandatory toll for truckers and members of Louisiana and the nation’s transportation industry who greatly depend on this corridor of I-10, for commerce out of the Port of Lake Charles and also in the connection of the supply chain throughout Texas, south Louisiana and the entirety of the Gulf Coast.
We are in opposition to the proposed I-10 Calcasieu Bridge toll, not only because it puts the financial burden heavily on the trucking industry, but also because interstate tolling is a double tax on citizens.
A NEW TOLL ON I-10 MEANS A MOTORIST PAYS TWO TAXES FOR THAT SAME ROAD: A GAS TAX AND A TOLL TAX.
THE UNSUCCESSFUL HISTORY OF TOLLS
Tolling existing interstates has never been successful and actually has a negative impact on public safety, congestion, the environment and the economy.
In 1998, Congress established the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, which authorized three toll pilot projects, one in each of three states, to toll an interstate highway, bridge or tunnel. Due to significant public and political opposition, attempts at tolling under the program have been unsuccessful. These failed attempts have cost states and the federal government millions of taxpayer dollars.
Tolling existing interstate lanes has never been successful, and the evidence demonstrates the negative effect of tolling on public safety, congestion, the environment and the economy.
Taxes paid to build interstates and fuel taxes continue to pay to maintain them. New tolls tax users twice.
Tolls take many years to generate any net income.
A family traveling from Washington D.C. to Florida and back on I‐95 would pay $143.50 in tolls on the interstate alone, with that amount increasing every year. Even worse, $36 of that $143.50 would go to cover the administrative costs of tolls, not to the roadway's tolls were intended to fund.
Even electronic tolls can cause delays and make roads less safe by disrupting traffic patterns. Traffic diversion creates congestion on other roads and can delay response time for emergency personnel who rely on those secondary routes. This creates more wear and tear on those secondary roads.
BAD FOR BUSINESS
Tolls increase the cost of delivering goods and services, putting local businesses at a competitive disadvantage and increase costs for the residents.
Researchers found “With rare exception, actual toll road traffic in many countries has failed to reproduce forecast traffic levels, regardless of whether the assessment is made after an initial year of operation or as long as 10 years after opening.”
The electronic devices used to pay tolls enable the vehicle to be tracked outside tolling facilities and personal information can be used by groups and agencies other than toll operators.
Poll after poll has demonstrated that the public is strongly against the idea of tolling our interstate system.