St. Charles seeking revitalization of once-vibrant west bank thoroughfare

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011



LULING – St. Charles Parish administrators said recently that a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help the parish in its efforts to revitalize the Paul Maillard Road corridor on the west bank.

Renee Simpson, spokesperson for St. Charles Parish, said the $442,422 grant from HUD’s Sustainable Communities Challenge program will be put toward improving transportation and housing opportunities along the 2.6 mile-long state road. She said St. Charles Parish was one of 56 communities and the only one from Louisiana to receive the grant.

“Our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy and create jobs depends upon how quickly and efficiently we can connect our workers and families to education and employment opportunities,” said HUD Regional Administrator C. Donald Babers. “This grant will help St. Charles Parish to create new visions for housing, transportation, workforce development and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come.”

Paul Maillard Road, also known as Louisiana Highway 52, runs through Old Luling and Boutte. Simpson said the road was once an important retail corridor on the west bank of St. Charles, but the completion of the west bank portion of Interstate 310 in 1988 caused the slow decline of the road. The grant will help the parish make an investment in the neighborhood while developing a plan to make the road more attractive to development.

Simpson said the parish’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, “Plan 2030,” which was adopted by the St. Charles Parish Council earlier this year, considers revitalization of Paul Maillard Road as a key to promoting sustainable development in the parish. The highway is one of three connecting River Road to U.S. Highway 90.

“It is a highly visible road that has a synergy of partnerships with federally funded agencies on or within one-fourth of a mile of the corridor,” Simpson said. “The goal of the plan is to encourage redevelopment of Louisiana Highway 52 in ways that showcase HUD’s Livability Principles and a complete streets approach to infrastructure.

The plan calls for an improvement to pedestrian access to the corridor to create “walkable neighborhoods.” It also puts emphasis on creating pedestrian and cycling paths in the neighborhoods along the road. There will also be an emphasis on developing housing geared toward middle-income residents and retirees who either cannot afford or do not want to live on a 6,000 square-foot lot.

In addition, the two-year study will attempt to determine the feasibility of providing a scheduled bus route up and down the street rather than the current point-to-point pick up method used by the River Parishes Transit Authority.

Core partners in the study include the Center for Planning Excellence, St. Charles Parish Hospital, the St. Charles Parish School Board, Family Resources of New Orleans, the River Parishes arm of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission and the River Parishes Transit Authority.