Reserve looks for fast lane

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2013

By David Vitrano

RESERVE – Although N-Y Associates, the company investigating different routes a possible Interstate 10 interchange in Reserve could take, presented two construction options to the crowd gathered at the public library in Reserve Thursday evening, for most the choice was clear.
“To me there is only one alternative,” said Reserve resident and local historian Gerald Keller. “We learned in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
The option Keller — and seemingly everyone in attendance — favored would essentially extend West 10th Street through the fields behind the South Central Louisiana Technical College and then over the wetland area before connecting with I-10. The second option, besides two other options that would essentially just ease traffic flow by upgrading or making minor adjustments to existing construction, would extend East 22nd Street first north and the east to meet up with Belle Terre Boulevard just south of the existing I-10 interchange. The second option was heavily criticized by those in attendance.
“When I evacuate, you’re asking me to go east and then back west,” said Keller. “Belle Terre flooded during Isaac.”
“The Belle Terre exit is heavily residential use,” added Brent Guillot. “You shouldn’t put extra truck traffic there. If they use the Belle Terre exit for commercial use, there will be a lot of hazardous cargo traveling through there.”
The two options presented Thursday were whittled from a field of nine after an extensive study of environmental, human and traffic impacts, according to Bruce Richards of N-Y Associates.
The options were weighed against each other based on the amount of wetlands that would be damaged by the construction as well as the number of people construction would displace. They were also judged on the total number of minutes each option would save on a daily basis and the possible time savings for emergency response.
The two alternatives that emerged from the original field best met these criteria.
The option utilizing West 10th Street was expected to affect about 49 acres of wetlands and have no substantial noise, visual or relocation impacts, but it does cross a gas pipeline. It was also estimated to save a daily gross of 13,913 minutes per day in 2020 — the year the firm estimates the project to go online. It could also shave off nearly 11 minutes from emergency response times.
The second option would affect about 31 acres of wetlands and have no substantial noise, visual or relocation impacts and would cross no utility pipelines. It was estimated to save 13,926 gross daily minutes and shave about five minutes from emergency response times.
For the next couple of months, the firm will continue to study the impacts of the various options, but a big part of the process will be based on input from local residents.
“We definitely want as much participation as we can get,” said Richards.
A comment form was available to attendees, but the company is also accepting comments by fax to 504-885-0595 or by email to Comments should note they are in reference to EIS for enhanced access between U.S. 61 in Reserve, LA and Interstate 10 and should be submitted by April 21.
Richards said a more formal public hearing on the matter will be held sometime during the summer after more impact studies are completed.