Estimates of the money needed to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges in Bossier Parish coming from consultants for the parish police jury and representatives of FEMA aren’t even close, Parish Engineer Butch Ford told police jury members.
“We hired a consulting firm that has experience dealing with FEMA to drive the same roads. Our consultants say it will take $1.6 million for repairs, FEMA says they will give $200,000,” Ford said. “It’s a battle to agree on an amount.”
Repairs to the roads and bridges need to be made before winter, “…but I don’t know if we can make it happen,” Ford added.
Ford said a major problem in dealing with the federal agency is “…FEMA wants to see damage right now. I’ve tried to convince them this is something that occurs with traffic and time.”
Parish Administrator Bill Altimus said the police jury thought it was an advantage to hire people who have dealt with FEMA in similar situations, but that hasn’t been the case to date.
“We’re just not getting anything,” he said. “FEMA has seen the damage to our roads. We’ve been letting this work through their process, but we get the same answer every time.”
“We’re working with them…we’re fighting for every dime we can,” Ford added. “We felt we could get the gravel roads repaired but we can’t get off dead center. We’re trying to stay on top of everything.”
After the police jury received FEMA’s funding following the 2015 floods, Ford said appeals were filed that are still pending.
“Last year we appealed. We had $1.6 million in damages and they gave us $180,000. GOHSEP (the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) agreed and appealed for us. That may be our only outlet.”
With the focus on flooding once again in Louisiana, police jury members approved a $57,766 bid last week for drainage projects designed to help move high water away from parish neighborhoods. Projects awarded were in Chimney Lane and on the Princeton Rd.
Jury members also approved a bid of $415,785 for an acceleration lane heading south at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 71 and the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway near Parkway High School. The bid is contingent on approval by the state bond commission.
A section of Swan Lake Rd. from Interstate 220 to Modica Lott Rd. will receive a two-inch coat of asphalt following approval of an amendment to the parish’s three-year road overlay program.
Butch Ford said his office had received complaints from residents who frequently travel that roadway.
“The road there is in tough shape. We won’t be starting more construction projects until next summer but I don’t know if this roadway will make it through the winter,” Ford said. “The road is in pretty good shape from this portion on to the north.”