Officials, Investors Discuss Bridge Sale

Thu April 10, 2008 - Southeast Edition

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Public officials have met with private investors interested in buying or leasing the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, but the 24-mi. (38.6 km) bridge is not for sale, the Causeway Commission’s general manager told state lawmakers.

Robert Lambert said he has met several times since December with representatives of the Shaw Group — a Baton Rouge-based engineering, construction and environmental contractor — at the request of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard.

But the Causeway Commission isn’t interested in selling the bridge and having it operated by a private firm, Lambert told members of a legislative budget committee March 19.

A sale to Shaw could generate millions of dollars for road projects in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes but lead to periodic toll increases on the bridge, which connects Mandeville and Metairie.

“We do not see any benefit to the public for that to happen,” Lambert said during an interview March 20.

Broussard said the meetings with Shaw are just a “dialogue of ideas” and haven’t resulted in a formal plan.

“It hasn’t reached the stage of specificity where it can be adequately judged,” Broussard told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Lambert said he met with Shaw Group representatives as a “courtesy” to Broussard. “I’m afraid Aaron was the only one who was very optimistic,” he added.