Every new construction in the parish is subject to Ascension’s Transportation Impact Fee, collected at 70% of the statutory maximum after the last parish council faced some blowback from the development community in 2016-17. Since its enactment on April 7, 2016 the fee has generated $10,651,899 according to Planning Director Jerome Fournier last month. The council, which designates roadways are eligible for funding within three zones of collection, is considering adding Cannon Road in Zone 2.
The Council Transportation Committee made the recommendation last week, Cannon Road’s eligibility for Zone 2 must be approved by the full council. Zone 2, in blue above, will tap into the $3,291,347 collected to date. As of last week the only funds expended in Zone 2 have targeted safety improvements on Roddy Road, which intersects Cannon roughly midway along it length from Hwy 44 (western terminus) and Hwy 431. $1,000,000 having been allocated to Roddy Road improvements, nearly $2.3 million is left.
Ideally, according to Fournier, Cannon will be widened to 20′ and extended westward to Airline Hwy. Requisite acreage to link Hwy 44 to the Airline has been acquired, the Planning Director said last week.
$7,253,485 of the total emanated from Zone 3, the area on the east bank and north of Hwy 74; $3,291,347 from Zone 2 which includes the rest of east bank Ascension excluding the City of Gonzales and the Town of Sorrento; and $107,067 from Zone 1 on the west bank.
Outside of the $1 million Roddy Road allocation ($200,000 for Clearing and Grubbing/$800,000 toward safety widening), toward a $10 million overall project cost, every dollar allocated has been in Zone 3. Three Hwy 73 turn lanes, east of Airline Hwy, benefited from $2,215,000 of impact fee funding (nearly 100% of the total required).
- Hwy 73/Brown Rd turn lane ($715,000)
- Hwy 73/Oakland Rd turn lane ($700,000)
- Hwy 73/Henry Rd turn lane ($800,000)
A cool $1 million is targeted for the long-awaited intersection improvement at the intersection of Airline Hwy and Germany Road. The total cost is anticipated to be $1.4 million. Construction could begin as early “as this summer…the end of August” according to Traffic Engineer Jeff Burst of HNTB due to procedural requirements in the bid process.
$985,000 is earmarked for Hwy 930 ($560,000 toward widening/$425,000 for clearing and grubbing), with an overall cost of $4.7 million to the parish. Additional funding accrued from Ascension taking the former state highway into the parish road system in June 2018.
More funding could be on the way, keeping in mind the Council’s consideration of a 12-month subdivision moratorium in the offing, as increased impact fee collection has been codified by the Council.
A unanimous council amended Ascension’s Transportation Impact Fee ordinance to increase the rates of collection on a graduated scale beginning on January 1, 2020. Currently collected at 70% of the maximum fee (35% on the west bank), the fees have generated over $10 million since codification on April 7, 2016. In May the Transportation Committee recommended an increase to 80% but Councilman Dempsey Lambert, citing COVID-19’s adverse impact on the local economy offered a substitute motion to “leave the fee at 70% for 12 months, or until the (as yet non-existent) moratorium is lifted.”
Councilman Joel Robert, arguing that the lost income from maintaining the status quo for a year, recommended an amendment that the fee should be collected at 90% after 12 more months at the current rate. Councilman Aaron Lawler offered the motion that would ultimately be enacted, once Lambert withdrew his:
- Delay implementation of the 80% collection rate until December 31, 2021;
- Increasing to 90% on December 31, 2022; and
- Increasing to 100% on December 31, 2023.