The Bossier Parish Police Jury will be making improvements to the Kingston Road corridor ahead of the new Benton High School opening next fall.
Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford said there are four areas to address — Airline Drive, Fairburn Avenue, Kingston Plantation and Highway 3. Their first project is to add a traffic signal at Fairburn Avenue, which they plan to do this summer.
“Traffic signals are not hard to install,” Ford said. “I think the school board wants to go ahead and put those in now and I’m ok with that.”
Ford said they also plan to add a southbound right turn lane from Kingston onto Airline Drive and turn lanes at the entrance of Kingston Plantation.
“I’ve got the project designed and we’ve already acquired the right of way,” Ford said. “Before next summer, we’re going to let this project. These lanes will help the traffic flow instead of waiting for people to turn into the subdivision.”
The parish is also working with LADOTD to extend the existing southbound left turn lane on Highway 3 to accommodate more vehicles turning onto Kingston Road.
Ford says these road improvement projects should be completed before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
“As soon as we have the plans ready and the school board gets ready, we’ll get started on the work,” Ford said. “We have to make sure the traffic concerns are addressed to keep people safe. We’re trying to do our best now to plan for the future.”
The projects are part of an agreement with the Bossier Parish School Board and the Bossier Parish Police Jury. Keith Norwood, Supervisor of Planning and Construction, said the board allocates money when building larger projects for off-site improvements, such as water, sewer and streets. Improving existing streets is included in that as well.
The school system collaborated with the Police Jury when they built Kingston Elementary, Norwood said, and are working with them again on the new Benton High School, the largest project to date with Bossier Schools’ 2012 construction bond program.
“We gave them our share of money to improve Kingston Road when Kingston [Elementary] was built,” Norwood explained. “That included widening the road and putting in turn lanes. We’ve funded a second traffic impact study to see what recommendations are made with the new high school coming and the board has approved the police jury actually bidding out the work.”
Norwood said there’s an “inherent savings” by doing the projects this way. The approved agreement also includes overlaying tracks at Bossier High School and Preston Crownover Stadium in south Bossier.
The new Benton High School is a $45.5 million project and will be located adjacent to Kingston Elementary, specifically at 449 Fairburn Avenue and Tiger Pride Drive. The school will be built on 70 acres and will accommodate as many as 1,450 students initially. There will be additional space on campus to serve a student enrollment of 1,650 if necessary.
Parish Administrator Bill Altimus said he was approached by Bossier Schools in regards to some property around Kingston Elementary. They plan to use two acres on the south side of campus and eight acres to the west of campus along Willow Chute Bayou to build outdoor recreational areas. The plan is to develop pavilions with seating areas, a walking trail and open green space for recreational activities (football, baseball, etc.).
Altimus said the jury may consider playground equipment later on, but not in the initial development. Both areas would be maintained by the parish.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to do something really good for our quality of life,” Altimus said. “I know this will be very popular in that area, especially with the continued development there.” Paperwork is being done now for the cooperative endeavor agreement between the parish and Bossier Schools. Once that’s done, Altimus said they will work the parks into their schedule.
“The two acre park would be done first, then they would work on the eight acres,” he added. “It’s very beautiful there. It’s a great, shady spot for a park and walking trail.”
Altimus thanked the Bossier Parish School Board for the opportunity to work together on the project.
“It’s a win for them and certainly a win for us,” he said. “It’s an ideal location to where the school can use the park as well if they need it.”