Road Swap Agreement may happen, Council approves mayoral signature

Leslie D. Rose

All appeared to be in high spirits at the Sept. 14 regular meeting of the Mayor and Councilmen of Gonzales. Mayor Barney Arceneaux, along with all councilmen, city attorney, Erin Lanoux and Police Chief Sherman Jackson were in attendance to discuss a seven point agenda.

Of the items discussed at length, councilmen agreed to approve Mayor Arceneaux's signature to a future Road Swap Agreement with DOTD. While no agreement has been written, Gonzales City Engineer Jackie Baumann explained that the idea is for the City to take ownership of Cornerview Road to Airline Highway. In exchange for the transfer of ownership, DOTD would allot $1.39 million to La. 44 improvements, between I-10 and Loosemore Road.

“I know this is a very unique agreement,” Baumann said, explaining that it is still a new concept, for which research is unavailable to showcase findings on other city’s results.

Baumann further explained that the agreement, simply stated, means that the City of Gonzales would be taking ownership of the maintenance of signal lights along the specified road. One signal, however would remain under the maintenance of DOTD (at St. Theresa and Cornerview Road), leaving the City to tend to the remaining three signals.

Through research findings, Baumann said that she recommends seeking bids for signal maintenance companies to service the area, as opposed to the city, itself handling them. She also suggested, as a future concept that the city consider doing away with two of the three signal lights, as they are within close proximity of each other. With obvious opposition from Chief Jackson, Baumann assured the Council that she was not implying a strong suggestion, rather a future idea for later consideration, should an agreement take place and research is available to support the idea.

Councilman Kenny Matassa appeared pleased with the potential agreement.

“This is how you put together an agreement – great,” Matassa said.

Minutes from the Aug. 24 council meeting were approved, along with minutes from the Sept. 8 hearing and meeting of the Zoning Commission.

A surplus was declared on the following recreation items – 2000 Yamaha 4-wheeler, 2008 John Deere front mower with trailer, 2004 Grasshopper lawn mower and 2007 utility trailer. Also declared surplus were hydrant and water meters, by the lots.

The engineering report and DPW reports listed many projects underway, including design drafts in occurrence for Cornerview turn lane gas and water relocation; replacement of old water line along New River Bayou; and the looping of dead end lines at the rear of Carli-Co Café and KFC Sportsman’s Park.

The sewer portion boasted that the DEQ loan application of $15 million has been approved. The three projects included in the loan are the rehabilitation of old sewer lines (point repairs are 80% complete), treatment plant upgrades and new force main for new development in the southern portion of the city, and a regional lift station for Edenborne and Conway (final plans are in revision). Not included in the application is the Lift Station 8 force main relocation in Southwood Subdivision, which is on hold due to the lack of right-of-way.

DOTD is completing a comprehensive study of proposed solutions for Ashland to I-10 – completed results are expected this month.

Internal review is underway for the Cornerview rehab between La. 44 turn lane and Airline, with a new dual left turn lane at Irma.

A contract was awarded to Coastal Bridge for the improvements to La. 30 at Purpera; DOTD comments have been received and revisions are underway – the project is at 60%, the contract has yet to be executed.

A walkthrough for the La. 44 pavement preservation project was held on Aug. 27.

In the recreation department, contracts were signed on July 20, with design underway for the Carver Light Rehab Project. Pedestrian bridge plans are underway by the swimming pool near Jambalaya Park with site grading to begin soon.

Finally, a special event permit was granted to the dance group – Spectacular Dancing Divas, who will host an anti-bullying event on Oct. 31 in Jamablaya Park. The prospective event, “A Bully’s Nightmare: Bullies hide beneath masks” plans to bring awareness to anti-bullying, while incorporating Halloween themes, said coordinator Ty Fowler.