Tangipahoa Parish legislators and others were able to give the state legislature and the Department of Transportation and Development their wishlists of local road projects in one fell swoop during what has been described as a traveling “road show” of the Joint Highway Priority Construction Committee.
Rep. Chris Broadwater of Hammond and Rep. Steve Pugh of Ponchatoula emphasized that the widening of U.S. Highway 51 from Ponchatoula to Hammond is the most important project he could put forth to the committee.
Broadwater invited any of the legislators to try their hand at quickly navigating the area around 5 p.m. The area is frequently congested because of the growth of both Hammond and Ponchatoula. The increased traffic impedes the travel of the emergency vehicles attempting to reach North Oaks Medical Center, he said.
“I really hope that will be a priority,” Broadwater said.
There is a $13 million project on the books to widen U.S. Highway 51, but the project status is still waiting for funding. DOTD has designated $400,000 to clearing and grubbing around the U.S. Highway 51 and Interstate 12 interchanges for the upcoming roundabout project. That $5 million project is still in the design and development stage.
Broadwater also said he would like to see Highway 445 widened and Highway 40 from Independence to Loranger repaired.
Tangipahoa Parish Engineer Maurice Jordan re-emphasized the Highway 445 widening.
“This is a heavily-traveled road in both volume and load,” Jordan said, requesting that more emphasis be added to the project.
On his future projects, Broadwater said he would like to see University Avenue in Hammond extended to the east to connect with Pride Drive. This would promote economic development and give motorists other access points to the city.
Though Rep. John Bel Edwards was unable to attend the 3:30 p.m. meeting, his seatmate Rep. Sam Jones gave his list of projects to the committee. Edwards’ main concerns are with Highway 43, U.S. Highway 51 from Fluker to the Mississippi state line and Highway 440, Jones said.
Though Sen. Ben Nevers’ main concerns were with highways in St. Tammany Parish, the did request that U.S. Highway 51 in Amite be addressed as well as the bottleneck on Club Deluxe Road in Hammond.
“We need that road to be completed as soon as possible,” Nevers said.
There are $400,000 scheduled for the 2012-2013 fiscal year to overlay the Club Deluxe overpass of Interstate 55.
In addition to roadways, Pugh requested that the boat launch in Manchac be addressed and updated.
“It is one of the largest and most used boat launches in the area,” Pugh said. “And if the water keeps rising in LaPlace, it’s going to be the boat launch for LaPlace.”
Jordan also emphasized three projects not on any of the legislator’s lists. Highway 1051 is a gravel state road which needs to be paved, Highway 440 near Sumner High School sees high traffic and Highway 1058 near Chesborough is very rough, he said.
Sen. Robert Adley, who was in charge of the meeting, even put in a plug for repairing the road from I-55 to the village of Tangipahoa.
“Outside of one gravel road left in my district, that’s the worst road I’ve ever seen in the state of Louisiana,” Adley said, noting the road is on the list to eventually be repaired.
Road projects scheduled to be completed during the 2012-2013 fiscal year include:
- Bridge replacement at Gill Creek and Creek Bridges: $1.4 million;
- Maintenance and restoration of U.S. 51 from the Highway 3234 Junction to the Highway 442 South Junction: $1.6 million;
- Converting a shoulder bypass lane into a left turn lane on Highway 16 at Highway 1054.
Items still currently under design and development include:
- Drainage improvements of Highway 16 in Amite: $1 million;
- Maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of Highway 445 from U.S. Highway 10 to Highway 40: $3.5 million;
- Maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of I-55: $3 million;
- Construction of a roundabout at Highway 22 and Dunson and Ridgedell: $1 million;
- Overlay of Highway 1064 from U.S. Highway 190 to Highway 443: $1.9 million;
- Overlay of Highway 38 from the Washington Parish line to U.S. Highway 51: $6.5 million;
- Overlay of Highway 40 from Highway 445 to the St. Tammany Parish line: $1.7 million
- Overlay of U.S. Highway 51 from the Mississippi state line to Highway 10: $5 million
There is also a project on the list to construct 2,900 feet worth of North Tangipahoa Park trails for $57,000. It is listed as awaiting funding.