The next phase of the Jones Creek road-widening project, relocating utilities, should be ready to start within the next few weeks, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Works Director David Guillory said Thursday.
The project involves widening Jones Creek Road between Tiger Bend Road and Coursey Boulevard from three to five lanes.
Guillory said the first phase, clearing obstacles in the area, is done and the city-parish is waiting for utility companies to remove and relocate utility lines.
Once that work is done, it may take a few more months until the actual road construction can begin, Guillory said.
He said the $17 million construction project should take about a year to complete, but might not take that long.
In the interim, drivers will still be able to use the road.
Once heavy construction begins, drivers will be restricted to one lane in each direction, Guillory said.
The project is one of several road projects in the area.
Guillory said there is about $130 million worth of road construction in a two-mile area he called the “hotspot of road construction,” including two other segments of Jones Creek Road, one on South Harrell’s Ferry Road, one on O’Neal Lane and one on Millerville Road.
One segment of South Harrell’s Ferry Road and O’Neal Lane are already completed, he said.
A mixture of federal, state and local money is being spent on the Jones Creek Road widening project.
Once the project is finished, Guillory said, it will be a five-lane road, similar to Siegen Lane, with a sidewalk on one side and extra lighting to improve safety.
The Jones Creek Road construction project came under fire recently from local residents because of the removal of three oak trees that some residents said they believe to be more than 100 years old.
Resident Donna Laird said she drove by the area around 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon and the three trees were gone.
Metro Councilman Joel Boé said removing the trees was the most logical and cost-effective plan because of the presence of a business on one side of the road and major underground utilities on the other.
Boé said in an email that area subdivisions, businesses and the School Board, which owns the land adjacent to the three live oak trees have been aware of the project for a long time.
Laird said residents knew of the project, but they were not told when construction was set to commence.
She said spoke to Boé on Thursday and he explained to her the circumstances surrounding the decision to remove the trees.
“He did say it was possible to go the other way but they chose not to because of money,” Laird said.
Laird said residents in the one of the subdivisions were hastily trying to remove heirloom rosebushes in the median when they saw workers move in to remove the trees.
Foy Crary also voiced displeasure at the way Boé handled communicating with his constituents.
“There was no excuse for not notifying your constituents,” she said.
Boé said he spoke to Crary about the issue on Tuesday.
“The crux of my conversation with Crary was that there was nothing I could say that would change her mind,” Boé said.
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