Governor Edwards announces completion of Curtis-Coleman Bridge project in Rapides Parish
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 2:21:36 PM

*Updated with correct contractor name

, La. – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards was joined by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., along with state and local officials to celebrate the completion of the Curtis-Coleman Bridge project along U.S. 71/U.S. 165. The event was held at the Buhlow Lake Landing, located in Pineville.

Governor Edwards said, “The completion of this bridge is an example of what the state can accomplish when dedicated to a goal. The completion of the Curtis-Coleman Bridge will have positive impacts for many generations. I know the role infrastructure plays in economic growth and we will see more infrastructure improvements that will benefit the state in the coming years.”

The project involved reconstructing a bridge that crosses the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville and increasing capacity of the bridge and its approaches from two to four lanes. This bridge is the most direct route from U.S. 165/U.S. 71 to I-49. The existing bridge needed to be replaced due to its age. It was built in 1936.

“This is a great achievement for the state and Central Louisiana,” said Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D. “As this area continues to grow, this highway will become even more important for economic growth as it will allow for easy access to the surrounding communities. With the completion of this bridge, travelers will experience much-needed safety and driving improvements along the US 71 and 165 corridor. As we move forward, we have a Governor committed to improving infrastructure and I look forward to more successes in the future.”

Since Governor Edwards took office in January 2016, approximately $130 million has been invested to improve transportation in Louisiana.

U.S. 71 provides direct access to I-49, a heavily traveled road along Louisiana’s most important north-south and east-west highway corridors.

The corridor improvements along U.S. 71 will allow for quicker access to local airports and ports, including the Alexandria International Airport, Pineville Municipal Airport, and the Port of Alexandria.

“This is a day we have been waiting on for quite some time. Work began on this bridge in 2011 and today we celebrate the completion. This will help the residents of Pineville and Alexandria in their daily activities. I’d like to thank all the hard workers, the people at DOTD, the state and contractors who worked to make this happen. I look forward to celebrating more successes in the future,” said Senator Jay Luneau.

Louisiana State Representative Jeff Hall said, “What a day for Rapides Parish and central Louisiana. When we opened the two lanes in March, you could sense the end of this project was near. Now that we are here, we will reap the rewards for many years to come. Pineville and Alexandria are now joined by a first-class structure.”

City of Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy said, “This new bridge will make it easier for travelers in the Alexandria-Pineville area to use the corridor, to get to I-49 and to visit our friends and family in other parts of the state.”

“As central Louisiana continues to grow, projects like this will help us become competitors in the economic market. Expanding to four lanes, helping traffic flow and increasing safety for our traveling public is a tremendous accomplishment. Pineville will also benefit because this bridge allows for better access to our community,” said City of Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields.

The Curtis-Coleman Bridge is also the last project to be completed under the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program. The TIMED program was the single largest transportation infrastructure improvement program in Louisiana’s history. Projects in the $5.2 billion program included improving and widening 536 miles of state highways. The program was funded with a dedicated 4-cents-per-gallon gas tax approved in 1989 by the state legislature and voters.

Awarded to Jensen Construction for $82.9 million, work on the project began in January 2011 and was completed in May 2016 in time for the ribbon cutting.