Holden revises bond proposal in lieu of failing bridges

POSTED: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 6:24pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 6:25pm

While cars still aren't allowed over the North Flannery Road Bridge, Mayor Kip Holden says it'll be up to the Metro Council to make sure something like this doesn't happen soon somewhere else in the parish.

“We have a problem that has to be corrected before it gets worse,” stated Holden. “The infrastructure problem is real. I can’t make it any more real than what they saw yesterday.”

Less than 24 hours after the shutdown, the mayor has revised his bond proposal. Among the changes is an increase in the number of bridges to be fixed - from 75 bridges to 78.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker, one of the nine council members that rejected Holden's proposal last week, says there are bridges that need to be fixed, but a $750 million bond issue isn't the way to do it.

“That doesn't mean we have to go out and tax people more; there’s money out there to fix the bridges,” said Walker. “We have 200 bridges, (and) he's only talking about fixing 75. Ten to fifteen years from now, we're gonna need to fix the other 125. There's no money (for that) in the proposal.”

Mayor Holden says if the problem isn't fixed, like it's presented in his bond issue, it could hurt commerce in Baton Rouge in the long term. It could also impact traffic in a big way; he says he hopes council sees that

“It could create havoc in regards to economic development”, said Holden. “Maybe they will get it. Maybe they'll understand that we are very serious and this whole incident with bridges is something that has to be brought to the forefront for public safety.”

Mike Walker insists this proposal won't get what's needed in East Baton Rouge Parish. He says his mind is already made up.

However, if council does listen to the mayor's presentation week and approves the bond issue, voters will see it on the ballot in November.

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