With the new year three weeks old, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker is getting down to business on several agenda items, including transportation projects, infrastructure improvements, and overall upgrades.
Outside Bossier City, regionally, Walker said there are projects that are still important to Bossier City and the area. These include the Jimmie Davis Bridge, resurfacing of I-20, and flooding issues.
- Jimmie Davis Bridge — The need to replace the Jimmie Davis Bridge is something that the city, parish, and local DOTD office have made a priority. A presentation was made to (Louisiana’s) Joint Transportation Committee recently.
- I-20 — The segment of I-20 from Westerfield Street eastward. It is in insanely poor condition. The city, parish and DOTD have made it a priority for the state to address that as soon as possible.
- Flooding — Sandbags on levees deteriorate and we have to replace them with new ones and it doesn’t make sense. If we know we’re going to flood, we need to get with US Army Corps of Engineers and others to allow us to build up the levee so we don’t have to keep doing it.
Walker also noted that traffic congestion is a continual problem and “always going to be a problem, but it’s a problem about 50 parishes in the state would love to have.”
He said the city is doing everything feasible to reduce that. This includes projects like Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, which is seeing utilities relocated and plans drawn. Hopefully we can get construction underway in late 2019 but no later than 2020.
The mayor noted that Benton Road is becoming as congested as Airline Drive. That has the city looking at adding more lanes from I-220 north.
“We’re in the very initial phases of discussion. We have enough room in our right of way if we decide to go that way,” said Walker.
He went on to say that Innovation Drive will reduce traffic on Airline Drive and Viking Drive widening is being planned, as is running Melrose east to connect with the road behind Kroger shopping center development.
Shed Road, which the mayor wryly joked, “has been under construction forever,” should be finished by end of the month and that will not only help with traffic flow but also flooding on side streets connecting to it.
Walker said the city plans to do some major upgrades in parks and recreation, including refurbishing fields at Tinsley with artificial turf. That comes as part of the planned $60M bond upgrades.
“We’re definitely going to start (the bond upgrade projects) this year. We’re taking our wishlists down to one consolidated list with a good budget estimate,” Walker said. “The city council will select a budget committee to come to us to settle differences of opinion and then we can present one budget item for the council to vote on.”
Other priorities include improvements and expansions to the Bossier City Animal Control building, watching the city’s water system, and public utility projects.
“We’re taking it extremely seriously. After (the positive test for brain eating amoeba), we did everything by the numbers and we’re pleased with the results, but we’re still testing,” Walker said about the water system. “We’ve been replacing stuff underground ever since I came to work for the city 32 years ago. We’ve been very aggressive over the past three decades about upgrading our water distribution system.”