The Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) was informed yesterday that Caddo and Bossier Parishes in coordination with the Cities of Shreveport and Bossier City will receive federal funding to develop a Regional Thoroughfare Plan. The plan would designate and preserve potential highway corridors.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is providing $250,000 in Surface Transportation Program funds through the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG), which serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the region. To secure the funding, $62,500 in matching funds must be raised locally from either private or public sources.
The matching funds must be raised by May 1, 2016. The total cost of the Regional Thoroughfare Plan will be $312,500 and will be completed in early 2017.
MPC Chairwoman, Lea Desmarteau and MPC Executive Director, Mark Sweeney, were both instrumental in getting the funding allocated for this first time planning effort for the region. Desmarteau says this type of plan will save tax payers money. She says once completed and adopted, the plan will officially empower the cities and the parishes to identify and preserve rights-of-way needed for expansion of existing roadways as well as for future highway corridors to serve anticipated growth and development. Likewise it will prevent construction in areas marked for a future highways, and will require developers to align their projects in accordance with the provisions of the thoroughfare plan.
Desmarteau says a regional plan would also speed up the process of building new highways. While feasibility and environmental studies will still be needed, the thoroughfare plan will diminish potential lawsuits from developers trying to block proposed routes.
Desmarteau says a plan like this could make it easier for Caddo and Bossier Parishes to get government funding for highways in the future. “For the first time in our history we will have a thoroughfare plan that will provide a long term and practical vision of transportation needs and solutions for both parishes”.