Residents' comments added to Ascension-Livingston Parkway route study

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Prairieville resident Ben Babin (left) and St. Amant resident Bill Brandon are shown studying one of three corridor alternative maps for a proposed Ascension-Livingston Parkway. Babin, Brandon and other parish residents attended a parkway feasibility study meeting on Feb. 20 at Lakeside Primary School in Prairieville.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez announced Friday residents' comments from two public meetings will be added to the Ascension-Livingston Parkway feasibility study engineers are preparing as part of the project's initial development.

Parish engineers along with consulting engineers from Burke-Kleinpeter, Inc. presented residents of Ascension and Livingston parishes with several route options for a proposed four-lane parkway with a bridge crossing of the Amite River. This parkway would connect U.S. Highway 190, Interstate 12 and Interstate 10. The public meetings were held on Feb. 19 and 20.

"With the continued growth that our parish and the region are both experiencing, and with the increased traffic on our present roadway systems, we wanted parish residents to see some alternative ideas for moving traffic between Ascension and Livingston parishes," President Martinez said. "All the comments from our residents are important and key to determining the future of this project."

According to information provided by BKI, the outcome of the study will help identify feasible alternative corridors and roadway configurations. With the completion of the project feasibility project report, the input of community and stakeholder comments will serve as information for the next phase of environmental work prior to indentifying a corridor for construction. Engineers estimate the feasibility study portion of the project to take at least one year.

The Planning/Environmental Process is estimated to take one to two years.

Funding for construction of this project would be paid for by a combination of federal, state and local funds, officials said. According to BKE, no funding has been secured at this time.

"It really depends on the funding and getting through the environmental process," said Ray Miller, a senior project manager with Ascension Parish. "The environmental process and clearance to purchase right of way, to do the alignments and to do the engineering could take another five years. If it all was in place and funding was in place you may see that, but traditionally it would be eight to ten years out before construction starts."

Currently there are there are three route alternatives being proposed. Alternative 1 is approximately 23.5 to 24.6 miles long. Alternative 2 is approximately 24 to 25.1 miles long while Alternative 3 is approximately 23.4 miles to 24.5 miles in distance.

According to BKI literature, Alternative 1 would begin in southern Walker in Livingston Parish. It would follow LA 447 south, detouring around development, and connecting with LA 16 through Port Vincent before crossing the existing Amite River bridge. The route would continue south on LA 431 through St. Amant. Total estimated cost for this route including design, traffic analysis, environmental, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocations and construction is $225.2 to $232 million.

Alternative 2 would begin between Livingston and Walker and travel south 8.8 miles through agricultural and undeveloped land. It would then take an eastern course around Port Vincent, and cross the Amite River with a new bridge before meeting LA 931/LA 431 and traveling south through St. Amant. Total estimated cost for this route is $277.5 to $285.5 million.

Alternative 3 would begin between Livingston and Walker, traveling south 8.8 miles through agricultural and undeveloped land before turning west around Port Vincent. It would cross the Amite River with a new bridge east of the junction of LA 933/LA 42. The route would then connect to LA 931/LA 431 south through St. Amant. Total estimated cost is $277.8 to $285.8 million.

"I think the residents that attended the meetings responded well to the concept of this parkway," Miller said. "There were folks that are anxious to see it happen but understand that it may take some time to happen. While others were concerned where this would go and how it would impact their property."