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Police Jury eyes extending ART Parkway south

Members of the police jury Road/Subdivision committee talk about future projects. (Courtesy photo)

Bossier Parish’s Police Jury has an eye on the future after discussions Wednesday centered on bridge projects and a southern extension of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway during the jury’s Road/Subdivision Regulations Committee.

Parish Engineer Butch Ford said the ART extension would provide a new north/south corridor and help get automobile traffic off Hwy. 71. He said the police jury already had a major investment in that new corridor that could extend as far as Taylortown on U.S. Hwy. 71.

“Back when revenues were high, the jury voted to go ahead and acquire rights-of-way. We thought if we didn’t, a Haynesville Shale well could be drilled and that would stop the whole thing,” he told the committee. “We have $600,000 invested in engineering and environmental studies, and we need to move ahead with purchasing the additional right-of-way and permits.”

Ford said engineers and consultants were hired in 2010 with the idea of looking at a route to the projected I-69 corridor. A public hearing was held at the time, he added.

In addition to the ART extension, Ford said three bridges in the parish are on the construction drawing board, one of which can be targeted for work to begin this year.

“We met with the engineering team, we have the permits and we’re working on servitudes for the bridge on Sligo Rd. over Foxskin Bayou,” he said. “We’re trying to get the project to be let for bids by this summer so we can start. We have a detour for emergency vehicles and traffic.”

Other bridges that are on the list include Caplis Sligo Rd. over Red Chute and the Johnson Koran span over Foxskin Bayou. Ford said the parish is still working with FEMA on structures at Swan Lake Rd. (south Bossier) and Kelly Rd.

During Wednesday’s meeting, jury members agreed to remove fill dirt and leave only the tank car culverts at the Swan Lake Rd. bridge over Flat River. An embankment of the earthen bridge has significantly eroded and the parish has closed the structure, declaring it unsafe.

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a landowner in that area, asked jury members to consider digging out what he said had become a dam across the Flat River.

“We landowners hate to see it rain,” Campbell said. “With that embankment in the state it’s in, the water cannot flow on out to Red Chute and then Loggy Bayou. If it rains enough, water just backs up and threatens our homes and livestock.”

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