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Construction On New Jimmie Davis Bridge Near Shreveport, La., to Begin Later in May

Wed May 01, 2024 - Southeast Edition #10
Shreveport Times

Jimmie Davis Bridge (LA 511) over the Red River connecting Caddo and Bossier parishes.
Photo courtesy of LA DOTD
Jimmie Davis Bridge (LA 511) over the Red River connecting Caddo and Bossier parishes.

Work on the new $361.7 million Jimmie Davis Bridge project is set to start in just a few weeks, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

"We are anticipating starting work on the new Jimmie Davis bridge in about a month," said Erin Buchanan, the state agency's public information officer, in April.

The DOTD held a construction kickoff meeting April 26 for the bridge project, the Shreveport Times reported April 29.

"I travel that road all the time, and I am interested to see the exciting new things they are going to do," Marivel Segarra, a south Bossier resident, told the newspaper.

The $360 million project will replace the current Jimmie Davis Bridge with a new structure nearby as well as repair and reconfigure the historic structure that crosses the Red River to connect Louisiana's Caddo and Bossier parishes.

The older span, which was built in 1968, carries approximately 25,500 vehicles a day, the DOTD noted.

Its new construction will be separated into five phases, with the first phase scheduled to get under way in mid- to late-May with shoulder reconstruction along Louisiana Highway 511/Jimmie Davis Highway.

The state transportation department said the work is necessary to be able to accommodate traffic on the shoulders during roadway construction.

The initial portion of the effort is anticipated to take approximately six months, according to DOTD, while overall completion date for the new bridge is scheduled for late 2028.

When finished, the span will be widened to include four lanes and a raised median with three openings for U-turns. This design configuration will improve traffic flow and ease congestion, the agency added.

"It's exciting that they are building the bridge and the road and redoing it because there's always accidents on the overage," Segarra said. "The traffic is horrendous. I am just excited to see how it looks afterwards."

Once the new bridge is completed, the old bridge will be transitioned into a pedestrian structure.

"A lot of the details that go into converting our existing bridge into a pedestrian facility we don't know yet, but it will be something that's very unique for north Louisiana," Buchanan told the Shreveport news source.

The existing bridge also will remain open to vehicle traffic for the duration of construction on the new crossing, but there will be alterations to the way motorists can access certain points.

Increased Construction Costs Led to High Price Tag

In late February 2023, the Louisiana DOTD announced that James Construction Group LLC had been awarded the multi-million-dollar design-build project of the Jimmie Davis Bridge.

The state agency noted that following a thorough evaluation of the cost proposal they decided to award the contract to the contractor. This decision was made after James Construction proposed a $361,743,367 price bid and a 1,768-calendar day building period.

The cost came in substantially higher than what DOTD anticipated, and, as a result, transportation officials said they were careful to review the proposal. In the end, the agency's staff was able to determine that the inflated price was in response to increased construction costs, specifically items such as concrete and steel.

DOTD also determined that the cost of some of the materials was likely to increase during the almost five-year construction period. With that in mind, the transportation department said it did not anticipate that a lower cost would be achievable with a new procurement or different project delivery method.

The agency worked with the Louisiana Division of Administration to secure additional state general obligation bonds for the project prior to awarding the contract.

The bridge project is being funded through allocations from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and state general obligation bonds.

DOTD said that once the construction of the new four-lane bridge north of the current structure is completed, the old Jimmie Davis Bridge will be rehabilitated into a linear park that will connect the existing bicycle and pedestrian trails across the Red River.

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