Construction projects near completion

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 12, 2003


HAHNVILLE – The year 2003 looks to be a year of construction projects all over St. Charles Parish, with several of them due to be completed this year, especially in St. Rose.

New library

The St. Rose branch of the parish library, which broke ground in October 2001, is near completion, but the opening has not yet been scheduled, according to Library Director Mary desBordes.

Construction, she added, is “very close to being completed,” and the book collection and furniture is ready to be placed, but minor tweaks remain – enough to make the opening date unclear.

“They’ve been in the penalty phase a long time,” desBordes said of Favalora Construction of Kenner, and said, “It’s costing them money.”

The $1.2 million facility was designed with much input from library staff, including 40 parking spaces and a 60-person meeting room. This is the first library branch to be built in St. Charles Parish since the East Regional Library in Destrehan opened 24 years ago.

The library was designed to have “a comfortable, bookstore-type environment,” desBordes said.

The new branch will be staffed with three full-time and two to four part-time employees. The facility is 10,000 square feet, placed on a 55,000 square foot site.

The construction was financed by the library’s 4.9-mill tax, carefully conserved over years to build up their capital projects funds. The St. Rose area was previously served only by bookmobile.

The St. Charles Parish Library was first opened in 1955, with branches in Norco and Hahnville, according to the library’s Web page. Those communities have branches now at 197 Good Hope St. in Norco and at 14996 River Road in Hahnville. A satellite branch opened for a short time in Mimosa Park Subdivision of Luling, and developed into the West Regional branch at 105 Lakewood Drive in 1977.

The East Regional branch opened at 100 River Oaks Drive in Destrehan in 1978.

New bicycle path

Also in St. Rose and extending to Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan, the new levee bicycle path is nearing completion.

Construction supervisor Danny Hebert said the eight-mile segment, which will link Jefferson Parish’s bike path on top of the Mississippi River levee to Ormond Boulevard, should be complete by early to mid-March.

Angelo Iafrate Construction submitted the winning bid for the job of $1,054,438.05.

Along the way, a one-acre mini-park is under construction at Charlestowne Subdivision, across from the new St. Rose branch library, where a 10-car parking lot, prefabricated restrooms, bicycle rack, water fountains and ramps to the crown of the levee are being added.

Hebert said the addition of three inches of limestone base for the areas to be paved is 85 percent complete. The access ramps are 15 percent completed, as the contractor needs to add more clay base from the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

After that, seven to 10 days should see the completion of the asphalting of the paths, park and access ramps. Additional historic/scenic overlooks, with zig-zag pedestrian paths, are being installed at Destrehan Plantation and Ormond Plantation. Bike access ramps are being located at the East Bank Bridge Park, St. Rose Avenue and Ormond Boulevard.

Eventually, a similar bike path will be built on the West Bank, as funding becomes available, which will extend in either direction from the West Bank Bridge Park, four miles in each direction as part of the first phase, with construction expected to start this spring.

This project would include a large scenic overlook under the Hale Boggs Bridge with a connection to the West Bank Bridge Park.

New school additions

Larry Sesser, executive director of physical plant services for the parish school system, said progress is speeding up for the new St. Rose Elementary School, as well as the additions at Norco and Luling elementary schools. The St. Rose K-5 school has a $4,335,000 price tag; with the new wing at Luling Elementary at $4.3 million and the new wing at Norco Elementary School priced at $1,550,000.

Construction of the new Raymond K. Smith Middle School is due to go to construction bids in February, and construction itself will start this spring near the school board office.

This $11 million facility, replacing Eual J. Landry Sr. Middle School, is due to open by fall 2004, Sesser said.

All three projects are due to be completed by the time the new school year opens in August.

Other developments

Economic Development Director Corey Faucheux is eagerly awaited 2003, with such developments as the new Ramada Inn being built at James Business Park in St. Rose and a new Wendy’s Restaurant at James Drive West and Airline Drive.

“People at James Park have been needing some places to eat lunch,” he said.

Judge Edward A. Dufresne Jr., developer of the three-floor, 134-room hotel nearing completion at James Park, said, “They’re moving along pretty good, moving down floor by floor.”

He originally hoped to be ready for Mardi Gras this year, but will just miss that self-imposed deadline, preferring to have it open a week or so “to work out the kinks” before such a major event. However, JazzFest and the Essence Festival are both coming up in a few months and, with his location near the Louis Armstrong International Airport, Dufresne said he expects to be able to be ready by the end of March.

Additionally, a new Voodoo Barbecue restaurant will open a month or so later, using a steel-building construction to fast-track it, Dufresne said.