Growing pains lie ahead

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A map of road projects for 2014 in Bossier City provided by City Engineer Mark Hudson.

Infrastructure meeting shows needs for Parish’s growth

In about 20 years, Shreveport-Bossier should be one of the major transportation crossroads of America but like other fast-growing areas, residents will see some growing pains.

“In another 20 years,the completion of I-69 and I-49 to go with I-20 will make this area the smallest metropolitan area in the country with three cross-continental interstates,” said Kent Rogers, executive director of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments.”That’s huge.”

Rogers was one of the speakers at the Bossier Parish Transportation Summit held March 25 at the Bossier Parish courthouse in Benton. About 75 people attended the event,which also featured speakers from the Bossier Parish Police Jury,the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Bossier City and the Bossier Parish School Board.

Representatives of utilities and other entities were also present at the summit,which parish officials organize every few years to share information among government entities, utility companies,developers and other interested parties.

Lisa Johnson, president of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, said the meeting was productive.

“This helps us all make sure we’re all on the same page,” Johnson said. “It lays a solid foundation to grow properly.”

To Rogers, the greatest single infrastructure need in the metro area is about to be addressed but will temporarily magnify transportation congestion.

Work on refurbishing the Jimmy Davis bridge linking Shreveport and Bossier City is scheduled to get underway late this year or early next year and is expected to shut the bridge down for about a year. The $50 million project not only will involve sandblasting and refurbishing to strengthen the bridge,but also provide a new road surface.

A companion bridge, to be built north of the existing bridge, in a best case scenario would get started in about seven years with a projected $80-110 million cost. Rogers said that project is in the environmental impact study stage. Once completed, the two bridges in tandem could double the traffic capacity of the existing bridge.

Instead of the new bridge being built first to provide an alternative traffic route while the existing bridge is refurbished,lack of funding for the more expensive new bridge means motorists will have to find an alternate route across the Red River for the approximately one year the existing bridge is closed

“That (building new bridge first) would have been preferred,” Rogers said.”The money wasn’t there. Unfortunately that’s the way it happens.”

Aside from the Jimmy Davis Bridge, Rogers said the top infrastructure need in the area is continued improvement of north-south corridors.

Part of the problem, Rogers said, is lack of consistent funding for major projects whose cost goes up the longer they are delayed.

Representatives of both Bossier Parish and Bossier City outlined several near-term and long-term transportation projects at the infrastructure summit.

What city and parish officials envision is a network of north-south and east-west traffic corridors that not only would improve traffic flow within Bossier City, but provide greater connectivity to outlying subdivisions.

Outside the city limits,plans call for extending the Arthur Teague Parkway to link up with Barksdale Boulevard at Highway 527. Inside Bossier City, plans are underway to link the parkway with Benton Road at Montgomery Lane.Combined, the two projects would provide a long north-south corridor to alleviate traffic on Barksdale Boulevard.

As the city winds down the Swan Lake Road widening and realignment with Industrial Drive, the parish is looking to improve and extend Swan Lake Road to eventually connect with Deen Point Road and Crouch Road. Extending Winfield Road westward from Bellevue Road would provide an east-west corridor linking Swan Lake Road, Airline Drive and Benton Road north of I-220.