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Fourth bridge location back up for debate

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) –The construction of a fourth bridge over the Ouachita River has hit another obstacle.

A report reveals environmental issues with a proposed bridge linking White's Ferry Road to U.S.165.

Since the bridge would disturb a good bit of wetlands, other locations are now being considered.    Imagine a bridge going through Forsythe Park. That could actually become a reality. With the location of the fourth bridge over the Ouachita River up the air, a connector from Arkansas Road in West Monroe to Park Avenue in Monroe will be examined by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. DOTD District Administrator Marshall Hill said the study will weigh all locations by need and expense.

"I think what they are doing is looking everywhere. Basically from the interstate to the north, vetting those options to see what they are looking at now," Hill said.   

More specifically, the DOTD say it will look at bridge locations from Natchitoches to Breard, from Wood to Washington and from Stella to Hudson. They will also look at improving what we already have.

"There are places that the interstate is two lanes wide. What if we went to four lanes?" Hill said.

Walt Caldwell with the Ouachita Parish Police Jury said building a bridge so close to the other three won't solve anything.

"There is just a bottle neck there. We need to ease that bottleneck by moving part of that traffic in a completely different location. Building another bridge within a few miles of the existing bridges is not going to do that. It is simply going to ease the bottleneck a little bit or maybe move it a little further north but it is not, in the long run, going to resolve the longer term issues of traffic," Caldwell said.  

Caldwell said environmental policy requires them to look at all reasonable alternatives to the original Whites Ferry road to165 location. He said they hope to have a location selected in a year.

After the location is picked, funds will need to be secured. That process could make the reality of the fourth bridge several years down the road.

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