Ascension-Livingston parkway '8-10 years out'

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 11:19pm

Ascension Parish leaders and engineers hosted an open house Wednesday to speak with residents about their study of a proposed parkway linking Ascension and Livingston Parishes.

If approved, the highway would be the first highway designed to connect the major roads in both parishes.

"You've got a pretty strong commute traffic already that's going between Ascension and Livingston," said Ray Miller, a senior project manager in Ascension Parish's engineering department. "But the big piece is connecting I-10 with I-12 and U.S. 190. That's really the big scope of this project."

The parkway would start in Walker, cross the Amite River in Port Vincent, and end in either Gonzales or Sorrento. They're currently in what they're calling the feasibility stage.

At Wednesday's meeting, and a similar event in Livingston Tuesday night, the parish, along with engineers from Burk-Kleinpeter Inc., showed maps of three possible routes, explained what the road might look like, and asked for feedback.

The biggest complaint they heard was from people who live on one of the potential routes who worry about congestion and a drop in their property values.

But that would be the case no matter where the parkway was considered, so the project team chooses to focus on the positive aspects of the plan.

"Providing better circulation and expanded capacity on some of the roads is going to be a great benefit," Miller said. "Just not from commute traffic, but for truck traffic, for evacuation traffic, as well."

Miller noted that Ascension and Livingston parishes both grew by more than 40 percent between 2000-2010, and roughly 25,000 cars currently cross the Amite River through Port Vincent every day. And if nothing changes, traffic will get much worse in the future.

"We're projecting another 40%, if not 50% growth in the next 25 years," he added.

There are still two primary problems facing the plan: where exactly to put the parkway, and how to pay for it. No money has been set aside yet by either parish, and none will be any time soon.

"This is just the beginning process," Miller said. "And almost any kind of project of this nature, that's gonna use federal or state funding, it's still 8-10 years out." 

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