Join the region

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2001

At a recent meeting of the St. Charles Parish Council, a presentation was made by the Regional Planning Commission requesting the parish to become a member. In my opinion, this move is long overdue and, should it occur, St. John the Baptist Parish should follow suit. For the past five years I have served on the MetroVision Council of Governments representing a group made up of the New Orleans metropolitan parishes. The River Parishes are the only members of this group that do not belong to the Regional Planning Commission. It is obvious that we are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to regional planning, especially on the transportation side. Transportation, in my opinion, is the greatest issue faced in St. John today. We are in dire need of additional corridor roadways, as well as the rebuilding of some of our present streets. Transportation is the main driving force at the Regional Planning Commission. Being a member of a metropolitan planning organization will help us greatly. I have worked through and am currently dealing with a glaring example of this: the Reserve I-10 interchange. The study phase of this project has been delayed for more than a year. The money has been appropriated by Congress but has languished at DOTD in Baton Rouge, and even today, the scope of the project is being debated. Had St. John been a member of the RPC, where St. John officials would have had direct involvement over the project and the process would have already begun. We cannot afford to continue to be treated as a stepchild and have our much-needed projects delayed. The Reserve interchange is vital to all of the east bank. LaPlace has seen an enormous increase in traffic congestion. Proper long-range planning is the only way to improve our community in the future. Our existing major corridors are in desperate need of repair. Fortunately, we were able to resurface Woodland Drive in LaPlace, but much more is needed. Railroad Avenue in Reserve, one of the few east-west connectors, is in deplorable condition. This road must be rebuilt and brought up to current standards. Old Highway 51 in LaPlace, now a parish road, needs to be resurfaced. These and many other streets in our parish must be addressed. Finally, from a regional standpoint, our future growth is linked to metropolitan New Orleans and the I-10 corridor. We need a seat at the table when regional issues are being discussed. Our major commerce arteries, river, rail and highway, all run together. It is only natural that we become a member. The buzzword around the nation is regionalism in long-range planning. It is time for the River Parishes to step in that direction for the future good of our community.

Duaine Duffy

Councilman-at-large, Division B