A worthy $49,500 expenditure on Parish Council agenda

As a rule we tend to wariness whenever a parish administration seeks to execute another professional services contract just under $50,000.  Tonight’s Parish Council agenda includes an exception which proves that rule.  The item:

Approval of Professional Services Contract between Ascension Parish Government and Gresham Smith for Traffic Engineering Services – not to exceed $49,500 (Joey Tureau, Chief Engineer)

Since President Clint Cointment took office anyone can access the meeting packets heretofore reserved to elected officialdom like every proclamation was some state secret.  So, we know exactly what Gresham Smith is being tasked to do.  Among its duties are:


I. Gresham Smith will provide 3rd party reviews of traffic studies performed for the PARISH by others. These studies could include:
a. Traffic Impact Studies performed for new developments or redevelopment.
b. Traffic Signal Warrants or Signal Timing Studies
c. Turn Lane Warrants Studies
d. Sight Distance Studies for no passing zones or intersection improvements
e. Traffic Studies for capacity improvements for roadway and intersection modifications.
f. Stage Zero Traffic Studies
g. Access Management or Safety Studies
h. Transportation Management Plans (TMPs) for temporary construction closures.

We’ve highlighted I(a) above because it is, simply put, a fantastic idea.  How many times has the Planning Commission considered a new subdivision’s Traffic Impact Study which evidenced little or no impact?  Paid for by the developer, none of these studies should ever be accepted at face value.

In fact, former Planning Director Ricky Compton moved to remedy the regrettable situation before his unceremonious firing by the developers’ best friend, then Parish President Kenny Matassa.

Gresham Smith is also being asked to:


I. Gresham Smith will meet with the PARISH to discuss traffic or transportation issues.
II. Gresham Smith represent the PARISH, as directed, at meetings with the public or others.


If requested by the PARISH, Gresham Smith will be available, through negotiation of a supplemental agreement, to perform additional services beyond those described in Tasks 1 and 2. These additional services may include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Performing detailed studies, such as those listed in Task 1 above.
  • Developing design plans for traffic signals modifications or new installations.
  • Developing design plans for roadway improvements.

We suspect that $49,500 will not go very far but this is among the best expenditures ever contemplated by parish government.

NOTE:  Former Planning Director Ricky Compton attempted to accomplish something similar in 2014-15 by having the traffic engineers answerable to the parish, paid for by a fee charged to the developer.