Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan could replace 70-year-old bridge in Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana (KTRK) -- It was a quick trip to Lake Charles on Thursday, but an important one for President Joe Biden.

The topic on the table? infrastructure.

FROM AUG. 2020: Here's how people in Lake Charles are recovering from Hurricane Laura

"We've got to build back to a different standard," said Biden. "Not to what it was. It's got to be better, because the climate has changed enough now that it's still going to rise two feet when it rains. We've got to build for what is needed now, and I promise you we're going to do that."

Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan would directly affect structures like the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, which went up in 1952.

"I've gone over it a couple of times. I just stopped going over it," said Lake Charles resident Griffin Gibson. "It doesn't feel safe anymore."

Biden is proposing to pay for his plan by undoing the 2017 tax cuts signed into law by President Donald Trump and raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Biden contends his programs would bolster the middle class and make the country stronger than tax cuts for big companies and CEOs.

Louisiana has been barraged by 30 extreme weather events over the past decade that caused $50 billion worth of damage. Biden is seeking $50 billion to make infrastructure better able to withstand storms, winds and flooding.

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Although roads and bridges are a concern in Calcasieu Parish, many are still dealing with the aftermath of Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which ripped through the area in August 2020.

"I can't be concerned about the highways right now. I'm concerned about my people. My people aren't returning home. Not having nowhere to go. That's my biggest argument right now," Arthur Landry said.

Landry is right. According to local officials, roughly 3,000 people in Lake Charles were displaced in the storm. That number goes up to 4,000 parish-wide. The federal government has pledged at least $50 million to Calcasieu Parish, but some argue it's not enough.

"Give us the help that's needed," Landry said. "Being the president, I just pray and hope that, you know, him stepping in and taking what is needed. That it needs to be done. I hope that he takes that into consideration and do something about it."

The I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge has been used to drive the infrastructure point home before. The parish tells ABC13 that President Trump visited several times to see it in its declining state. A total of 80,000 drivers use the bridge each day and it's part of the vital I-10 corridor that goes east from Florida all the way to California.

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