LIVINGSTON -- Chairman Gerald Burns passed out to the Master Plan Committee an initial draft of a road priority list for the Interstate 12 economic coordinator at its Tuesday meeting.

Burns said he drew up the list himself but wants to talk to the mayors of Denham Springs, Walker and Livingston to get their ideas and those of the committee.

He added he would be meeting with Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry next week.

“The whole Master Plan is to grow the economic corridor,” Burns said. “To do that you have to build these roads.”

The list contained 13 road projects for the economic corridor, an area 1.5 miles north and south of Interstate 12 and 3 miles in length.

“We can add, delete or change it,” Bates said. “After tonight … we may want to add more or change the priority.”

“It’s going to be a process.”

The chairman said the committee will discuss the list at its November meeting, then present it to the Parish Council, he said.

“All these roads won’t be built at one time,” Burns said. “We can talk, maybe get the state and parish to work on more than one road at a time.

“Even if we started today, we would get only one (project) in four to five years. You have to start today. What you do today affects tomorrow.”

At the top of the list is the Cook Road Extension north of I-12 in Denham Springs.

Burns said he had talked to Chad Bacas, of the engineering firm Forte & Tablada, and the “project is totally funded with state and parish match.”  

No. 2 is the Juban Road Extension, approximately 1.2 miles from Florida Boulevard (U.S. 190) to Lockhart Road.

The engineering design, wetland determination and feasibility study are 100 percent completed, Burns said.

A small part of North Park would be affected, Burns said, but a possible land swap he discussed last year with Jim Talbot could resolve it.

Nos. 3 through 6 are four-laning Florida Boulevard from its intersection with La. 16 to Walker South Road.

Burns said the reason he broke it up into four projects is “it’s a lot easier to get money for a short section.”

Construction cost of a four-lane road is $1 million, Burns said he was told.

“Adding in other things, like right of way or utility movement, and it easily goes to $2 million. If it’s in an area with commercial activity, go to $3 million (a mile),” Burns said.

A feasibility study would be the first thing needed, he added.

Committee member Larry O’Neill asked if flood risks would be considered in the road projects.

“In the recent past, several roads have been built and added to flooding problems. What plan do we have for possible flooding?” O’Neill asked.

Burns invited Eddie Aydell, of Alvin Fairburn & Associates, to address the committee, and he said, “One of the first things you do is look at the impact on hydrology,” and make sure the project does not have a negative effect.

Another four projects would four-lane roads: La. 63 south of I-12, Walker South Road south of I-12 to Buddy Ellis Road, Juban Road south of I-12 to Brown Road, and DEMCO Road from La. 16 in Denham Springs at the intersection of Cook Road to Range Avenue.

Albany Mayor Eileen Bates-McCarroll, a member of the Master Plan Committee, spoke up for No. 9 – adding a center-turn lane from La. 19 to I-12 in Albany – saying it should be higher on the list.

“It is a priority we get three lanes,” she said. “What is unique is all of our schools are within the city limits, so we have a tremendous amount of traffic coming into Albany from La. 42 and U.S. 190 twice a day.”

Bates-McCarroll called it an “unbelievable traffic jam. It’s intense traffic problems, carrying our most precious cargo.”

The mayor said she has some municipal projects in the works and in two years Albany will add a sewer line to I-12 and an upgraded water line.

“The industrial corridor will explode,” she predicted.

“We are already behind,” with growth expected in the next five years, she said.

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