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Bossier City councilman concerned over Shed Road safety

A driver speeds down a road under construction. (Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune)
Plus, city engineer explains latest delay in road project

By Sean Green, sean@bossierpress.com

A Bossier City councilman is concerned about the safety of pedestrians along an expanded Bossier City thoroughfare.

Councilman Jeff Darby has expressed concerned about safety of pedestrians, particularly children, when it comes to Shed Road being used as a cut through.

“Already there is a lot of cut through, so when people are in a hurry, they’re not thinking this is a residential area. They’re thinking they can get off of Airline Drive and get where they’re going,” he said.

Darby, whose district contains the project, said he is aware of phone calls from concerned citizens about speeding traffic.

“My office is over there, so I know for sure it’s going to be a factor,” he added.

Darby is seeking pedestrian warnings to be posted for drivers of big and small vehicles.

“Is there anything we can do, like caution lights? I talked about posting it because there are a number of big trucks that come in near the Walgreens and Cascio’s,” Darby said during a city council meeting in early November.

He said he understands that big trucks have to come in to the businesses located near the Airline Drive intersection, but there “shouldn’t be a reason to go beyond that point.”

Jeffrey Darby

“That’s going to be wear and tear on the new construction and a danger,” said Darby.

He noted that expanding the section of road between Benton Road and Airline Drive from two lanes to four lanes is a big change for the residents that live and walk along it.

“You want to go in with your eyes open, don’t wait until something happens,” Darby said.

Shed Road has been on hold again recently due to a change in a state-approved contractor.

Bossier City Engineer Mark Hudson said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has an approved provider of steel rebar. That contractor went out of business earlier in November, which meant DOTD had to approve another provider for the materials used in creating the road.

That prohibited the pouring of the last section of concrete at Shed Road and Benton Road until now.

The good news is that, according to Hudson, DOTD approved a new distributor last week.

“That means our contractor can get back to work,” Hudson told the City Council on Nov. 20.

After the last piece is poured, there is some curb and drainage that needs to be installed, a sidewalk will be poured, and stripes will have to be put down.

When pressed by the council for a date Shed Road would be open, Hudson declined to answer.

“For the last three months, I’ve told you we would be finished in a month. I just described to you what’s left to be done. That’s my best answer,” he said.

It’s the latest of several delays since the project began in late 2016.

Darby told Hudson and the council this summer about hardships suffered by residents throughout the project.

Darby noted that he had received a petition after a resident’s water was cut off for a “long, long time” and said there were “a lot of elderly people who had to purchase water and suffer.”

Hudson knew about the incident and explained, “The Shed Road project included relocating a water main and the contractor who installed it then hit the water main he installed. It happened half a dozen times.”

Hudson added, “I’m not making excuses for him. I sympathize with residents. They have been inconvenienced way longer than they should have been.”

Several business owners along the road have been vocal about how the construction has harmed foot traffic since it all began.

Cascio’s Market Bistro Owner TJ Forrest told the Press-Tribune in July 2017 that construction, which limited access to his restaurant, had been a disaster.

“I sunk everything I had into this place to get it and it’s killing me. It’s taking forever,” he said.

The $9.5 million construction project was due to be originally completed in January 2018.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.