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New roads planned for parish

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As Bossier grows, so does the amount of traffic on its roads and that is why, after years of delays, the Bossier Parish Police Jury is excited to see their plan for a new north-south corridor become a reality.

A land use study conducted by the city and parish more than a decade ago foresaw the need for new transportation corridors running north-south and east-west. The new north-south corridor will see the existing Swan Lake Road just north of I-220 be redeveloped and widened.

The parish has received federal funding for this project, with 80 percent paid through the Federal Highway Administration funneled through the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments. It will be divided into two phases, with the first phase of 3.5 miles costing around $16 million total.

Despite the parish having the funds necessary for the project, Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford said it has hit “stumbling block after stumbling block.”

“We finished the environmental study in 2008 and thought we could start in a couple years. Last year we decided to do the project in two years because we had the funding ready for half the project,” he explained.

The latest stumbling block is relocating all the utilities along Swan Lake road. The parish has secured agreements with utilities companies to move all their lines. That task is estimated to cost $1.5M.

The state received bids on Dec. 20 for a clearing project for phase I. Contractors will then be hired to clear the right of way that the parish has purchased and then the utility companies will start moving their lines. He estimates construction will begin in fall 2017.

“I’m 80% sure we won’t find any more snags. I wish we could have started this (at the beginning of) next year, but we have to get the utilities moved and that’s been a challenge,” said Ford. “But we should get started soon.”

He said this first phase is an 18 month project, explaining, “It’s complicated because we’re rebuilding portions of the road and new roads in areas where curves have to be taken out. rebuilding the existing road on its road bed and building new roads where curves have to be taken out and we have to widen the bridge across Flat River.”

Ford estimated that within another two to three years, the parish will take the expansion another 3.5 miles north to Crouch Road.

“It’s been a long haul, but we’re getting there.”

As far as the east-west corridor, the police jury decided last year to move forward with it instead of waiting on federal funding. This corridor will run from LA Hwy. 3 to Swan Lake Road. The current segment being designed will connect Swan Lake Road to Bellevue Road.

“The police jury didn’t see it ever getting constructed if we waited. Last year they authorized me to get proposals and we are now in the process of designing it,” Ford revealed. “We have the environmental study complete and engineers and surveyors are on the ground designing the segment.”

This decision to move forward was prompted by development, because developers in that portion of the parish want access and sewer connectivity.

For example, Ford said, “I’ve had two developers call about placing 2,000 homes next to Dogwood South. That’s what prompted me to ask the jury to look at the east-west design. We’re hoping they will donate right of way and build a road for us because they need access and then I have to provide sewer service to them.”

A 2011 study priced the east-west corridor at around $30M. Due to a slowdown in revenue collection, the jury has designed a plan that would see the road being built out as funds become available.