The five-parish Capital Area Road and Bridge District held its second meeting today, with the seven-member coalition electing Jay Campbell as chairperson and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome as vice chair.
Campbell, the former president and CEO of Associated Grocers, was tapped as the governor’s appointee on the five-parish coalition last week, replacing Mike Wampold. Other members of the district include the presidents of the five parishes—East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension and Livingston—and the DOTD secretary.
Another item on the agenda was setting up a working group of parish and DOTD personnel to begin the process of drafting a Request for Qualifications to hire a project manager for the district, tasked with exploring ways to finance and establish a new bridge across the Mississippi River.
“The goal is to get the RFQ prepared and issued to get the process started,” Campbell says.
The project manager would be in charge of completing the necessary studies, such as a new bridge environmental impact study, to move forward with the development of a bridge.
While drafting the RFQ will be done by volunteers on the five-parish coalition, funds will be needed to pay the project manager when the request goes out, which was another item up for discussion at today’s meeting.
District members raised the possibility of having each member parish put up money for a period of time while the coalition tries to secure finances from the state Legislature, says Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, who sponsored legislation creating the five-parish district last year.
Ward also acknowledged the district must complete the necessary studies if a new bridge is to ever come to fruition, and the environmental impact study on the bridge has never been completed.
“People are so tired of hearing about studies,” he says, “but in order to do anything to move forward, we have to complete the environmental study.”