Buddy Ellis Road (tight)

Buddy Ellis Road sign

DENHAM SPRINGS -- Two road projects, long-awaited, are in the process of beginning.

Another one will have to wait until spring.

It was announced in May that Buddy Ellis, Dunn Road, and Forrest Delatte would all receive widening, overlay, and drainage improvements.

Buddy Ellis is the furthest along, as the project was let for bid in July and awarded to Barriere Construction. While waiting for contract execution from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), utility relocation had already begun - a process that takes some time, according to area engineers.

According to Chad Bacas, engineer for Forte & Tablada, once notice is given, construction will begin.

That will include widening Buddy Ellis to 22 feet; installing covered culverts and catch basins; and then a layer of asphalt will be applied, with striping. There will also be a bridge repair baked into the project.

Buddy Ellis' bridge repair is the reason Forrest Delatte was moved into the spring. Both roads will require that piece, which means closures, Bacas said, so DOTD and the parish wanted to execute the projects during different time periods.

Delatte will receive the same work as Buddy Ellis.

Dunn is the other road to receive the widening, drainage, and overlay package, and will be second in line for construction. The bid will be let Thursday, Sept. 12; however, utility relocation has not yet begun so the construction phase will start later in 2019, weather permitting.

The Dunn Road package also includes several cross-culverts on the northern portion of the thoroughfare. Gravity Drainage District 1 asked for the drainage implements to be added to the project to help water move from one side of the street to the other - at present, the current culverts are too small, or blocked.

Residents living on Dunn Road will also have to deal with roundabout construction at Lockhart Road.

Capital Region Planning Commission, Metropolitan Planning Organization provided the grants for the work to the three roads. The revenue streams are an 80/20 match program, with the parish footing the 20 percent as well as permitting fees.

Parish Councilman Maurice "Scooter" 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. Parish Councilman R.C. "Bubba" 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.

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