DOTD wraps up environmental process for LA 143-US 165 Connector & Ouachita River Bridge Project
Friday, December 10, 2021 at 9:17:03 AM

DOTD wraps up environmental process for LA 143-US 165 Connector & Ouachita River Bridge Project

MONROE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announces that the federally required environmental process for the proposed LA 143-US 165 Connector and Ouachita River Bridge project is complete, with the No Build Alternative selected.

The LA 143-US 165 Connector and Ouachita River Bridge project was proposed to build a high-level, fixed bridge crossing the Ouachita River north of the cities of Monroe and West Monroe. The project would have connected US 165 and LA 143 and crossed the Ouachita River floodplain, the river levee, the Chauvin Swamp, and the Delta Southern Railroad.

The initial purpose of the project was to improve traffic capacity, relieve congestion, and support growth in the parish.

The results of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process – approved by the Federal Highway Administration - support the determination that this project as it was studied should not proceed to construction.

The purpose of the NEPA process is to ensure that agencies such as DOTD are provided the most accurate data in order to make an informed decision on the future of certain projects, particularly when funding is limited and must be used strategically with the greatest benefit to the traveling public.

The environmental process requires that a No Build Alternative be analyzed, along with all other proposed construction alternatives for a project. If applicable, a No Build alternative may be selected as the most appropriate option.

In early October 2021, FWHA approved the No Build Alternative for the project, effectively completing the environmental process and determining that a new Ouachita River Bridge would not meet the purpose and need for this project for any of the alternatives studied.

Some of the reasons for the determination include the impact to wetlands within the project limits and insufficient federal funding. Additionally, the Kansas Lane Connector and the upcoming I-20 widening projects in Monroe are anticipated to address congestion and capacity in the vicinity.

Public meetings held between February 1998 and October 2014 also could not resolve conflicting issues related to the design and location of the proposed bridge.

Findings from the environmental process and a limited benefit to vehicle travel made the cost of building a bridge at this particular location cost prohibitive. It is possible that future studies may conclude that there is a more effective and efficient manner to meet the original purpose of the project.

The project was estimated to cost approximately $328 million.