President Biden to visit New Orleans, Lake Charles on Thursday; will promote infrastructure plan | Environment -

President Biden to visit New Orleans, Lake Charles on Thursday; will promote infrastructure plan | Environment


President Joe Biden is coming to New Orleans and Lake Charles on Thursday to promote his plan to rebuild the nation’s bridges, highways, ports and other infrastructure projects, the White House announced Saturday.

Through the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan now before Congress, Biden is seeking to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels that drive climate change.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants $2 trillion to reengineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it.

The White House hasn’t yet released details of Biden’s trip, but in New Orleans he’s likely to highlight a proposal to remove the aging Interstate 10 overpass above Claiborne Avenue.

When Biden announced his infrastructure plan in March, he singled out demolishing the Claiborne Expressway as an example of how to reverse past roadway decisions that tore apart Black communities.

The proposal has the general support of Congressman-elect Troy Carter, but Carter also said last month that policymakers must first hear the views of residents and locals businesses in neighborhoods along Claiborne Avenue.

“We have to make sure we don’t swap one bad set of plans for another bad set of plans,” Carter said then. “The devil is in the details.”

Officials in the New Orleans region have a long list of projects that they say need attention, including upgrades at the Port of New Orleans.



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Officials in metro Baton Rouge want to add another bridge over the Mississippi River but haven’t been able to figure out yet how to pay for it – the tab would be at least $1.2 billion – or where to put it.

Overall, the White House notes that Louisiana earns a D+ grade for the sorry state of its infrastructure.

“In Louisiana there are 1,634 bridges and over 3,411 miles of highway in poor condition,” a White House fact sheet says. “Since 2011, commute times have increased by 9.3% in Louisiana and on average, each driver pays $667 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.”

Biden’s proposal also includes money for child care and caregiving for older adults and the disabled, something Republicans have said shouldn’t be part of an infrastructure plan. And it envisions weatherizing the homes of poor people to make them more energy efficient, plugging orphaned oil wells that are leaking earth-warming methane gas, making drinking water safer and expanding broadband service in rural areas. The latter plan is a top priority for newly elected U.S. Rep. Julia Letlow, a Republican who represents northeast Louisiana.

Biden is proposing to pay for his plan by increasing the tax rate on corporations from 21% to 28% for 15 years and forcing multinational corporations to pay significantly higher taxes to the United States treasury on profits they earn and book overseas. Republicans are balking at those proposals.

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Lake Charles also has a long list of needs, especially after Hurricanes Laura and Delta slammed the area in 2020.

The port of Lake Charles, McNeese State, Sowela Technical Community College, Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles and elementary and high schools suffered $1 billion of damage, state Sen. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, said Saturday.

President Donald Trump, on a visit there in May 2019, pledged that, if re-elected, he would seek to build a new Interstate 10 bridge over the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles.

The existing bridge predates the interstate – it has two lanes on each side, no shoulder and a steep grade – “and is a bottleneck for the Gulf Coast,” state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson said on Saturday. “It’s ugly, it’s old, but it’s safe. It doesn’t do anything for growth and future opportunities, however.”

Replacing the bridge would cost $600 million to $900 million, Wilson said, while upgrading the interstate on both sides of the bridge would add another $500 million to the tab.



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Biden last visited Lake Charles when he was vice president in 2010 to promote efforts for the area to recover from Hurricane Rita in 2005, and also visited there in 2006 while he was a senator.

“He has had a sincere interest in southwest Louisiana over the years,” former Mayor Randy Roach said Saturday.

Biden last visited New Orleans in July 2019 when he was running for president. On that trip, Biden spoke to a group of at-risk youth in Central City and held a fund-raiser at the National World War II Museum. In an interview with The Advocate at the time, he accused Trump of engaging in “race-baiting” and deliberately dividing the country to try to win re-election.

Accompanying Biden in New Orleans that day was Cedric Richmond. At the time, he was New Orleans’ congressman and was serving as co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign. After Biden’s victory, Richmond resigned and now serves as a senior adviser in the White House. He will undoubtedly make the trip with Biden on Air Force One.



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