WEBSTER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS)– Work on a replacement bridge on US 80 near Minden in Webster Parish has been completed as part of the state’s effort to keep employers like Fibrebond in the area.
State and local officials joined Gov. Edwards for a ribbon-cutting marking the opening of the new bridge on Thursday.
This replacement work was announced in early October as part of a Memorandum of Understanding that will accommodate the transportation needs of major manufacturing employers in the region, including the Fibrebond Corporation. State officials say this will allow workforce development and training programs for skills sought by many manufacturers in the region to be expanded at Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College campuses.
“I’ve never wavered in my commitment to keeping jobs in Louisiana, growing our economy, and listening to the concerns of businesses across the state,” Gov. Edwards said in a statement announcing the bridge opening. “There was no hesitation when Fibrebond approached my administration seeking to work together to keep that important industry from leaving the state. These agency partnerships are critical, and the citizens of Louisiana deserve this ongoing commitment.”
According to the release, the bridge replacement over Boone Creek in Dixie Inn was completed in approximately half the planned time, using DOTD in-house resources. The 3-span bridge was replaced with a 4-span pre-cast concrete structure, which will no longer have a weight-limit posted.
The governor says this factor is “key” in the efficient movement of goods, allowing manufacturers like Fibrebond Corporation access to a heavy-haul route.
“Properly investing in our infrastructure is crucial to ensuring that our manufacturing companies are able to move their products on our roadways and continue to provide jobs in our communities,” said Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson. “Gov. Edwards’ administration has been instrumental in supporting key improvements to our transportation system through the strategic use of available funding. Delivering a brand new bridge to the traveling public in a little over a month is an outstanding example of what we can accomplish when we set a unified goal that benefits the people of Louisiana.”
In addition, Edwards’s office says the DOTD will lower US 80 at the I-20 overpass between Dixie Inn and Goodwill Road in Webster Parish in order to allow custom-built loads to utilize the route with overhead clearance.
The governor says LED will contribute $2.5 million in Rapid Response funds to assist with fast-tracking the project, which is in development and is expected to go to bid soon.
“Along with workforce talent, viable transportation routes consistently are at the top of the list of items major employers look for in industrial locations,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “In this case, we quickly collaborated as a region and state to implement transportation improvements that will enhance business conditions for our valued employers who do business here and also benefit the strong workforce in Northwest Louisiana.”
The infrastructure upgrades will accommodate vehicles transporting Fibrebond’s oversized and heavy manufactured products, along with other industries that need to utilize the heavy-haul route for their loads.