“We cannot be afraid to act; we can’t be afraid of maintenance cost,” District 7 Councilman Aaron Lawler justified the Council’s resolution to accept LA 930 and 11 other roads from Louisiana DOTD and into Ascension maintenance system on Thursday. For years a succession of council members and parish presidents have bemoaned the fact that parish road funding is insufficient to maintain existing roads which Lawler discounted because of “the unique situation” presented.
Right-of-way acquisition along LA 930 having been accomplished by the state at a cost of $3.8 million, $4.8 million in state credits available in return for Ascension taking over LA 930, LA 934 (Gold Place Road), and 10 frontage roads can be expended to rebuild one of the worst roads in Ascension Parish. According to Assistant DPW Director Mike Enlow the design to rebuild LA 930 will cost $6.5 million.
The $1.7 million shortfall can be made up from existing funds in the Move Ascension road improvement plan or utilization of federal funding available through Capital Region Planning Commission. Ascension is in line for $9.3 million of those federal dollars with a 20% match. Thus it would cost approximately $300,000 to draw down funds sufficient to build LA 930.
Jackie Baumann, whose child attends Prairieville Middle School at LA 930’s intersection with Henry Rd, is the City of Gonzales’ engineer. She urged the Council to do the deal because the roads jeopardize student safety. Who would dare to argue against that oversimplification?
“There are many state highways in deplorable condition,” Councilman Todd Lambert ticked off an all too familiar list traversing the District 9 he represents. “Are we going to take all these state roads…into the parish maintenance system?”
We dare to suggest that Ascension Parish School Board should pay its fair share toward improving roads servicing its campuses. After all, which governing body is most responsible for the health, safety and welfare of students? APSB is the recipient of more tax revenue than all other taxing authorities combined by a long shot.
Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee had eight points to make against taking in 12 state roads to fix LA 930.
“These state road credits do not overcome the maintenance cost incurred by Ascension Parish,” he pointed out. “That’s the facts, Jack.”
And the Council continues to take in more, and more, and more new subdivision road mileage. Satterlee objected to Thursday’s consent agenda item taking four such roads, and was alone in opposition after a vote was necessitated. According to Councilman Dempsey Lambert each of them lies in his District 5 and his views should hold sway. Can you say “Police Jury”?
Is it mere coincidence that LA 930 bisects a proposed 172-lot subdivision, Jamestown Crossing, intended for property owned by Councilwoman Teri Casso and approved by the Planning Commission on May 9? Casso was not present on Thursday to respond; not that she would have. Pelican Post posed the question(s) to Casso and all of her colleagues in a June 12 email.
- Why is Hwy 930 being targeted for improvement instead of all those similarly substandard roads for which the state is currently responsible?
- Has there been some assessment of the state-maintained road inventory within Ascension Parish to determine which should be targeted by the parish for acceptance/improvement before others?
- If so, feel free to explain/describe the conclusions reached?
- Did the recently approved Jamestown Crossing subdivision preliminary plat factor into the decision to target Hwy 930 for improvement ahead of other similarly-situated state roads?
No responses were forthcoming, though Lambert and Satterlee engaged in a similar line of inquiry on Thursday. As for Councilman Lawler, he “gets tired of ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
LA 930 upgrades have been on the parish’s wishlist for over a decade and Louisiana DOTD had budgeted the project before Governor John Bel Edwards “red-lined the project” out of the state’s budget. State Senator Eddie Lambert was present to analyze the project’s history and voice his support.
In other business the Council amended the Unified Land Development Code to require stricter Traffic Impact Studies of every proposed subdivision preliminary plat. If enforced by the Planning Commission, which is always a dicey proposition, it could have a chilling effect on development since it prohibits building near an intersection with Level of Service worse than “D”.
Had the new ordinance been in place Jamestown Crossing could not have been (legally) approved.