Ribbon-cutting ceremony officially completes Prairieville Hwy. 42 project

Staff Report
A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opens Hwy. 42 in Ascension Parish.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson and several state and local officials joined together to cut the ribbon and officially open Hwy. 42 in Prairieville.

The project was more than 30 years in the making, but through perseverance and partnerships, it is complete and open and moving traffic through Ascension Parish.

According to DOTD, Hwy. 42 serves more than 22,000 motorists daily. It is a key corridor for Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, and surrounding parishes.

Loretta Templet has been following the progress of the highway through the years. She lost her only child, Mandy Acosta, and a nephew, Brett Leggette, and a friend, Brett Frederic, in a vehicle crash on Hwy. 42 in August 1994.

Templet, and her sister, Miriam Leggette LaCroix, were in attendance in 2014 when the project originally began, and in 2017 when construction started. Photos from the 2017 ceremony show the sisters talking with Gov. John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials. 

Templet officially cut the ribbon during the final ceremony.

According to a DOTD news release, the $27.48 million project, which stretches 3.7 miles between U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) and Hwy. 44 (N. Burnside Ave.), increased traffic capacity by widening the highway from two to four lanes.

Additionally, an 18-foot wide raised grass median was installed between the east and westbound roadways, as well as multiple J-turns to assist larger vehicles with making U-turns throughout the project limits.

Drainage additions were also needed to accommodate the significant development in the area, as well as modifications to the sewer designs that were constructed during utility relocations.

"Completing the La. 42 project shows what can happen when local and state governments work together for the greater good of Louisiana's citizens," Gov. John Bel Edwards stated in the release. "The sewer, pedestrian and road improvements will be beneficial to Ascension Parish for many years to come."

“Ascension Parish has seen tremendous growth over the past decade,” said Wilson. “In order to meet the needs of the residents in this parish, we must have infrastructure to support the economic and population growth. Not only has this project allowed for an increase in vehicle capacity, but also has improved bicycle and pedestrian mobility. Creating a lasting infrastructure system such as this is what will push our state forward.”

“The widening of this segment of La. 42 has been carefully thought-out and worked through for several years now,” said House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. “With over 20,000 drivers and many more cyclists and pedestrians utilizing this highway, the impact of this project is wide-reaching. The added sidewalk and bike lanes will provide safety for our pedestrians and cyclists and free up driving lanes for motorists. Additionally, the extra driving lanes will ease traffic and help with the flow to I-10 and I-12. I am definitely pleased with this project.”

“The Highway 42 project was the number one priority for Ascension Parish for the past 30 years”, said Senator Eddie Lambert. “It is a model project, and it is great to see it finished. It is a big step in addressing Ascension Parish’s rapid growth.”

“This project was a long time in the making, and I want to thank DOTD, our state legislative delegation, the Council, and all of our partners who helped to make this new and improved Highway 42 a reality,” said Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment. “This is a major milestone that will help to get traffic moving in Ascension Parish.”

In order to meet the needs of pedestrians along this busy corridor, a 6-foot sidewalk was constructed on the north side of the roadway, as well as a 10-foot bicycle/ pedestrian shared use path on the south side.

Currently more than 24,000 motorists travel this highly populated section of La. 42 daily. The number of motorists is expected to increase to 37,500 by 2034.

The contractor, Barber Brothers Construction Co., began construction in November 2017 and completed the project February 2022.