Story by Jennifer Middleton
The construction along Swan Lake Road has been in the works for nearly five years, and now, the project is nearly complete.
According to Bossier City Project Manager Pam Glorioso, the construction is expected to be completed within the next two months.
“We’re probably about sixty days out before everything is completely wrapped up,” Glorioso said. “There are some changes to be made on Highway 80, red lights [and] signals to be relocated. All that has to be coordinated with (Department of Transportation and Development) from the state.”
The new road, which began five years ago, has potential to not only relieve traffic, but become a new area for development.
“When you look at Bossier’s growth,” Glorioso said, “you look at north Bossier. It’s just booming, with residential, commercial, [and] retail growth. And Bossier is long and narrow. We have two main corridors — Benton Road and we have Airline Drive. What Swan Lake’s going to become is the new north-south corridor. And people that are moving or who live in North Bossier, it’s going to give them that other avenue to go, since they’ve got exit ramps off of I-220 and off of I-20 at Industrial. I think that’s going to really be a big traffic relief for people traveling north in Bossier City.”
Glorioso said that they have already been approached by one business owner looking to buy some of the property along the newly redone road. With the construction nearly complete, Glorioso said she expects to be approached by others in the near future.
“We’ll see some strip centers being built to accommodate the needs there,” she said. “Right now you’ve got two retail [centers], you’ve got Dollar General and Family Dollar there along that strip, and I think you’ll see more in that lower section.”
The project has come a long way since Glorioso began the early stages of preparing for the construction back in 2009.
Her job, she explained, was to buy properties from several business owners and homeowners in order to make way for the construction that would be cutting through the area, a process known as buying right-of-way.
Due to its size, the project was divided into two phases. The first phase consisted of buying right-of-way from I-220 to Shed Road. Glorioso said most of the properties along that stretch were commercially owned properties. The second phase was to buy right-of-way in the areas from Shed Road to I-20.
“Getting down into the lower southern part of the project, we realized that we were running up against a problem of a historic cemetery that existed there on Highway 80, which was going to stall the project,” Glorioso said. “So we redesigned the lower section of the project to take in more right-of-way off of Meadowview and Ann Scott, which meant there were about 15 more properties to be bought.”
Altogether, Glorioso said that 110 properties were bought from I-20 to 220, either portioned or in total.
Throughout the entire process of buying the properties, Glorioso said they encountered no opposition or resistance, unusual for such a big project.
“It was very user-friendly on that side,” she said. “We had no expropriations, [we] had people that were frankly anxious to relocate out of that area. [We’re] required by law to relocate them and make them whole again, so we had to deal with them, finding a property that was adequate to meet their needs that they had, and getting them put back in place. But we fortunately had no expropriations on the project. I’m proud of that.”
The total cost of buying right-of-way was $12.159 million, Glorioso reported, and the average acquisition for houses was $87,000.
“And that’s total. That’s closing costs, that’s acquisition, that’s relocation, whatever we had to do to make it happen.”
With the property-buying taken care of, the next stage of the project was the construction itself, which would ultimately lead to Swan Lake Road becoming a five-lane highway.
When the project is finished, Glorioso said that it will greatly help change the traffic flow in the area, making it easier for people to get where they need to go, especially during peak times like rush hour.