DENHAM SPRINGS – Ask and you shall receive.
That seems to be the case after a multi-year push by several parish councilman for at least some work on several dangerous roads throughout the parish.
Dunn Road, Buddy Ellis Road, and Forrest Delatte Road are all scheduled for infrastructure improvements and overlay beginning in August, with bids being let out for the work in July. Concerns from citizens in all three areas have become more loud and outspoken as residential developments continue to be approved and developed along those corridors.
The work will be done by the state, and while the current timeline appears intact according to Department of Public Works Director Sam Digioralamo, Parish Councilman Maurice "Scooter" Keen exercises caution with getting attached to those dates.
“The problem is, it’s the state,” Keen said. “So they could change the timeline or just tell (Sam) two weeks before ‘hey, we’re going to start this project.’
“(These situations are) kind of maddening, but it’s out of our hands.”
The state-level partnership allows the parish to avoid bearing the entirety of the cost of the project, ensuring money stays in the parish’s road fund for other projects.
However, the other problem is timing – all three roads, the roundabout at Juban Road and Highway 190, as well as the roundabout at Dunn Road and Lockhart Road will be under construction at the same time.
Several projects are multi-month, and some are multi-year.
According to Keen and councilman R.C. "Bubba" Harris, the work on all three roads is relatively the same. Since the state is doing the work, all three thoroughfares will be widened to 22 feet, which includes shoulders on both sides.
“I know Dunn Road, specifically, is dangerous,” Keen said. “It shrinks to 17 feet (wide) in some places.”
The ditches will be culverted and covered, and catch basins installed to help with drainage changes. Then, an asphalt overlay will be placed on all three roads, and finally striped.
Keen alluded to the permitting process as one of the biggest issues with getting the project underway. He listed environmental permits and engineering permits as the two most difficult. Harris, on the other hand, was more critical of the parish council district maps.
Buddy Ellis is divided into three councilman’s districts – Harris, Tracy Girlinghouse, and Jeff Averette – leaving it without a true representative, and better held for a state project so that the whole road could be completed, the councilmen said.