Councilman Aaron Lawler noted the parish will get a substantial amount of money from the state for taking over these roads.
On Thursday night, the Ascension Parish Council voted to take over several state highways in the parish in order to make the necessary repairs more quickly. One of those is Highway 930, which residents say is too narrow to allow safe passage of vehicles, especially school busses.
Highway 930 is crumbling, and the road does not meet the 18-foot width required under parish ordinances. Residents say two large vehicles cannot pass one another on many sections of the road. A widening project for the highway was in the capital outlay budget last year, but it was vetoed by the governor amid ongoing fiscal problems.
The state cannot afford to make the repairs to the narrow roadway, which has led to parish officials seeking to take over the state highway. Plans for Highway 930 include widening the road to 30 feet and adding two roundabouts at Henry Road and Highway 929. The state has already purchased right of way to widen the road, which means the parish would also get nearly $4 million worth of land needed to expand the highway.
Taking over the highway would mean the parish would also take Gold Place Road and several frontage roads along I-10. The state would cover nearly $5 million worth of maintenance on the roads for the next several years. Ascension Parish would have to put up around $5 million to install the roundabouts and cover future maintenance.
Some residents were concerned about the parish’s ability to fund maintenance of these roads going forward. Resident Jeff Pettit said the parish cannot keep taking in roads without a funding mechanism to maintain them in the future.
“I question our ability as a parish to be able to maintain these roads in the future,” said Pettit.
Parish councilman Todd Lambert echoed that sentiment. He said there are plenty of state roads throughout Ascension Parish and asked whether the parish would be taking over all of the substandard roads in the parish. He said taking in roads is a costly expense, and the parish should focus on taking care of the roads it already has.
“We don’t have the funding down the road to take in all these state roads,” said Todd Lambert.
Ascension resident Jackie Baumann spoke in support of the project, saying it is a safety concern for her daughter who attends school on Highway 930. She said the parish cannot wait for the state to get this project done because the state is facing its own financial issues. She said the parish will not take the road without taking in state dollars towards the project, as well as the right away to widen the highway.
Councilman Aaron Lawler noted the parish will get a substantial amount of money from the state for taking over these roads. He said the parish has started new maintenance programs and purchased new equipment to repair roads that could extend the life of the roads. He said it is a state road, but it is not being fixed despite the hard work of the Ascension delegation in the state legislature.
“I’m tired of pointing the finger and waiting,” said Lawler. “We have an opportunity to do something quickly.”
State senator Eddie Lambert has been working to get this highway fixed for years, but it has repeatedly been shut down on the state level. He said the road is in deplorable condition, and it needs to be repaired. He said given the state’s fiscal problems, it could be in the best interest of the parish to take over the highway and resolve the issues.
The vote on the resolution was 6 to 2 in favor. Despite opposition, the parish will take over and repair the state highway.
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