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Pres. Biden speaks in front of I-10 bridge over Calcasieu River

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Pres. Joe Biden stood in the shadow of the aging I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River early Thursday afternoon, promoting his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and his American Jobs Plan.

The stop in Lake Charles was the first of two in Louisiana for the president Thursday - Biden next traveled to New Orleans, where he toured the Carrollton Water Plant.

Biden’s proposed plan focuses on fixing highways and updating airports and ports, but it also includes eliminating the use of lead pipes to carry drinking water and providing broadband internet throughout the country.

Built in 1952, the 70-year-old I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu has exceeded its life expectancy.

“(The I-10 bridge) is a perfect example of how we’ve neglected as a nation to invest in the future of our economy and the future of our people,” Biden said. “It was built to make sure it was going to last for fifty years. The I-10 bridge was built to handle a daily traffic load of 37,000 crossings. Today, every day, more than 80,000 cars and trucks cross over that bridge and it doesn’t have the modern safety features that bridges need to have now. Six lanes of interstate narrow into four lanes of a bridge - that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Biden said the need to repair and replace aging roads and bridges is bi-partisan.

“This state is working to rebuild the I-10 bridge, but we can put America to work in every state, fixing roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair,” Biden said. “My plan is a one-time, $115 billion investment above and beyond business as usual.”

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter introduced the president, saying he was encouraged by Biden’s interest in Lake Charles in the wake of two hurricanes.

While Hunter said he and Biden are from different backgrounds and different political parties, there was common ground to be found in the needs of Southwest Louisiana.

“I do believe that we can agree on the dire need here in Lake Charles for an infrastructure plan that could build us a new I-10 bridge and I do believe that we could agree on the dire need to support disaster relief for Southwest Louisiana,” Hunter said. “I would never let anything stand in the way of me being here today, of me being anywhere to have an audience with someone who could help. Right now, Southwest Louisiana needs all of its elected officials to fight for the people of this community and be willing to break bread with anyone who can help.

“Mr. President, any members of congress who might be listening: Lake Charles needs help right now and we’re asking for it. Every day that goes by without disaster relief and without infrastructure investments that can bring a new I-10 bridge is a day that Washington, D.C., is failing the people of Southwest Louisiana.”

Yes President Biden was in Lake Charles today, and yes I did agree to be there, meet with him, and publicly welcome him...

Posted by Nic Hunter Lake Charles Mayor on Thursday, May 6, 2021

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also spoke ahead of Pres. Biden, highlighting the need for a new bridge and for federal funding following the hurricanes.

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