$100 million, plus in transportation funding committed to Ascension

Having just retired a similar amount of debt, Ascension’s Parish Council enacted the ordinance reissuing $25 million in bonds dedicated to a transportation improvement initiative branded Move Ascension on June 15, 2017.  Another $10 million kicked in from “cash reserves,” the initiative began with $35 million with another $60 million or so from various sources totaling north of $95 million toward Move Ascension’s efforts.  Depicted in the image above:

  • $36,357,500 emanated from various federal funds;
  • $12,100,000 from Traffic Impact Fees tied to new subdivision development since adoption of that ordinance in April 2016;
  • $10,000,000 in COVID-related allocations; and
  • $2,000,000 via state funds.

Coming up on six years since the governing authority issued those bonds, Move Ascension has undertaken…

“C & G” designation denotes “Clearing & Grubbing”

Heavy on roundabouts in Prairieville, five such projects will be in construction simultaneously in the near future according to HNTB’s Jeff Burst.  Having expended a healthy chunk of the $95 million, plus in funds, the initiative has moved on to identify additional projects…

“A number of projects are in design currently,” Burst told the Council Transportation Committee last week, adding that No. 10 above is a joint Cooperative Endeavor with Ascension’s School Board.

Hwy 73 is a particular focus as the initiative progresses, with a roundabouts at its intersections with Hwy 74, the future connector road linking Hwy 73 to Bluff Road, and Cornerview Road.  Ideally Hwy 73 will be four-laned from the Bluff Road connector all the way south to Hwy 30.  Fund-raising efforts will have to ramp up significantly to effectuate that lofty ambition.

To that end Burst’s analysis has focused on dual-lane roundabouts able to accommodate additional travel lanes.  “The parish president has instructed” HNTB to do so.

Hwy 431 bisecting St. Amant is another traffic congestion hot spot.  Acutely felt by Councilman Chase Melancon and his constituency, three intersections routinely back up during drive time because, in Melancon’s opinion, they lack left-hand turn lanes.

  • Churchpoint Road where St. Amant High School is sited;
  • Bayou Narcisse; and
  • Hwy 621…

“are the worst congested areas in the Hwy 431 corridor.”

Beginning his 20th year on the Council, newly-ordained Transportation Committee chairman (what was Council Chairman Melancon thinking here, we digress) blamed motorists from Livingston Parish for the worst drive time congestion.  Lambert opined that nonexistent left-hand turn lanes on Hwy 431 and Hwy 931 (both state highways) are a culprit.  Would it be possible to convince Louisiana DOTD to prohibit left turns “because we have to keep traffic moving?” he wondered.

Unfortunately, Lambert did not see this coming during his two-decade tenure.

A separate funding source, the federal Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, has provided $4.3 million for Ascension to replace bridges.

Traffic Engineer Joey Tureau “had a couple of days” to choose the bridges in most need of replacement.  Starting with a priority list provided by Gulf Engineers & Consultants Project Coordinator Bill King, Tureau identified the bridge at Devall Road (built in 1970) and Beco Road spanning Duck Roost Bayou (built in 1994) as those most “in need of replacing.”

All told that comes to $100 million dollars, not counting the federally-funded roundabouts planned for Hwy 30 in or near the City of Gonzales.  Bids were supposed to be let last week but pushed back to early March, more than a decade after initial project approval.