Four-laning highway OK with St. James

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 25, 1998

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

VACHERIE – Four-laning Louisiana Highway 3142 from Killona to Donaldsonville and eventually linking it with Interstate 10 west of Baton Rouge drew unanimous support Wednesday from the St. James ParishCouncil.

Donaldsonville Mayor Harold Capello successfully drew the Parish Council’s support with no difficulty, the idea being economic development of the west bank from Baton Rouge to Jefferson Parish.

An additional impetus would be as an alternate evacuation route for the region from New Orleans and north.

At present, the four-laned La. 3127 runs only in St. Charles Parish,merging back into two lanes just before the parish lines. One thing whichmakes four-laning economically feasible, though, is that the rights-of- way were acquired and purchased years ago when the two-lane highway was built, Capello pointed out.

This resolution will join others already passed by most communities along the route, including Donaldsonville, White Castle and also West Baton Rouge, Iberville and Ascension parishes.

Capello said he will also seek the support of the governments in St. Johnthe Baptist and St. Charles parishes.”I have not heard anybody say it’s not a good idea,” Capello declared.

Parish Councilman Elwyn Bocz said he had read of contrary opinions but voted in support of this resolution, nonetheless.

“We’ve been neglected since the Interstate went through on the other side of the river,” Capello stressed, pointing out the development in LaPlace and Gonzales.

The idea is opposed, Capello admitted, by East Baton Rouge Parish, which wants to keep traffic flowing through Baton Rouge rather than divert drivers (and their money) from that area.

Capello said with the I-49 project from Lafayette to New Orleans and the linking of the Veterans Memorial Bridge to Louisiana Highway 3127 and to Thibodaux, the highway infrastructure thus created would stimulate jobs, commerce and industry.

“The governor seems to be for it, but the more resolutions and councils get behind this, the better,” Capello added. “I may not live to see it but Iwant to see it started.”In other activity, a meeting by local authorities with U.S. Sen. MaryLandrieu at the National Association of Counties annual conference may lead to increased federal funding of coastal assistance programs.

St. James Parish President Dale Hymel Jr. pointed out the federalgovernment annually receives billions of dollars in revenues from the development of oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Even though inshore mineral development revenues are shared 50-50 with the states, the federal government does not give “a meaningful share” of the offshore revenues.

Members of Congress, pushed by their constituents, are developing legislation to change the formula and provide more mineral revenues to affected states.

The St. James resolution calls for the Louisiana Congressional Delegationto support this pending legislation.

Also, U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin recently filed a resolution before Congresscalling for a $500,000 study for flood control in the area bounded by the west bank of the Mississippi River and the east bank of Bayou Lafourche, from Donaldsonville to the Gulf of Mexico.

The study would address hydrological management, wetlands conservation and restoration and wildlife habitat. Local sponsor of the study would bethe Lafourche Basin Levee District.

Hymel also called for active participation in the June 5 River Region Caucus Job Fair, set at West St. John High.

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