New road desired in LaPlace by council, school board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 2004


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Build it and they will use it. That’s the attitude of the St. John Parish Council and the School Board regarding a new thoroughfare they want constructed from the Dupont Curve (from River Road) to Airline Highway in Reserve.

To that end, both entities have written and approved resolutions outlining statements that support their opinions.

Although the two documents were worded somewhat differently, the premise was the same – residents and visitors alike would benefit from this new street.

Statements include: closer proximity to East St. John Elementary School, River Parishes Hospital, Joe Keller Stadium and the residential area nearby. According to the resolutions, traffic gets very congested in that area; especially when school buses are there and also during sports games at the stadium.

“A good cut-through road will save time,” said School Superintendent Mike Coburn. “Not only for the school buses, but for better access to the (River Parishes) hospital.”

Paperwork regarding the proposal, including the resolutions, was forwarded by School Spokeswoman Ann LaBorde to State Rep. Bobby Faucheux, Jr. in June. That’s where it currently stands.

A copy of a letter dated Sept. 20, 2004 sent from Faucheux to Johnny Bradberry, secretary of the Transportation and Development at the state level, was recently received by the Parish Council.

In that letter, Faucheux expressed his support in regard to the resolutions to build the roadway. He stated that he would appreciate Bradberry’s ‘utmost’ consideration in placing the matter in the priority program.

School Board member Dowie Gendron has been working on this road-building project for quite a few years.

As the president of the St. John Police Jury in 1981, he felt a through-road in this area was essential when the River Parishes Hospital was in construction that same year.

Over the years, he has seen the project discussed in many circles, including the School Boards and the Parish Councils, to no avail.

But the project will again be discussed at the Parish Council’s next meeting on October 12, with Gendron making a presentation.

Parish Council member Cleveland Farlough, the at-large councilman that covers the area when the road is proposed, has requested that an inquiry for the status of the project be put on the council’s next agenda.

When Farlough contacted Gendron regarding this, he was more than happy to approach the Council to again reiterate what he has felt for many years.

“Twenty-three years is way too long to get this to go forward,” Gendron told L’Observateur. “The right-of-way is in place; the railroad negotiations can be done; the only thing left to do is to build the road. Let’s go forward and get this constructed.”

Coburn totally agrees. “We will keep pushing and hoping,” he said. “This (road) is desperately needed.”

Construction costs and funding for the program haven’t been discussed, although some officials think the price tag may run approximately $2-3 million. The money may come from local, state, federal funds, or a combination.

“No matter where the funds come from, let’s see if we can get this (project) going,” Farlough told L’Observateur.