Inside Report: Road work a puzzle in Livingston Parish

By Bob Anderson

Florida Parishes bureau

The widening of Interstate 12 and building the new Magnolia Bridge have eased east-west traffic for many Livingston Parish commuters.

Other east-west traffic problems persist, particularly on U.S. 190, but clogged north-south routes are now getting more attention from commuters once they get off I-12.

Livingston commuters who fight traffic to plants in Ascension Parish also are concerned about north-south routes.

Several proposals exist for dealing with both situations. One idea is to build a parkway between Livingston and Ascension parishes.

That would be vital if plant expansions create an additional 17,000 jobs in Ascension, said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks. He said a large portion of those workers would commute from Livingston Parish, making the current traffic tie-ups even worse, particularly on the two-lane bridge at Port Vincent.

Designers recently presented three potential routes for a four-lane, north-south parkway to run through Livingston and Ascension parishes and connect I-12 and I-10.

Paul L. Waidhas, project manager for Burk-Kleinpeter Inc., said the parkway would be a big improvement over the two-lane roads that meander north and south through Livingston Parish.

The parkway is an alternative to a shorter toll road that presidents of the two parishes have discussed over the past two years.

The parkway also would link U.S. 190, Airline Highway and a number of other east-west roads in those parishes.

An advantage of the project is that it would provide an easier route for Livingston Parish residents who commute to work at the Ascension Parish plants, said Sonya Collins, a
Livingston Parish councilwoman whose district would handle a portion of the parkway.

Some of her constituents are concerned about the effect such a parkway would have on their property, she said.

Livingston Parish Councilman Ricky Goff said he favors two proposed parkway routes to the east of two-lane La. 447. Those not only would provide a needed north-south roadway, but would open timberland as potential commercial and industrial sites.

The two routes also would provide a good link from industries east of Walker to the plants along the Mississippi River, Goff said.

It’s no quick fix, however. It could take 10 years for the idea to become a parkway.

To the north, much of the discussion involves Juban Road.

The first part of that plan would widen Juban Road from I-12 to U.S. 190. While there is little disagreement about the need for that widening, the plan has taken heat because of “S” curves and roundabouts critics say would slow traffic and have to be redone when Juban Road is extended from U.S. 190 to Lockhart Road.

That extension, which would move commuters between I-12 and the northern part of the parish, is the most cost-effective highway project in the parish, Parish Council Chairman Marshall Harris said.

The 1.2-mile extension would handle about 20,000 cars a day and would provide a missing piece in what amounts to an inner loop connecting I-12 to Magnolia Bridge via Lockhart Road, Harris said.

Widening the road between Magnolia Bridge and La. 16 is another part of that puzzle, the council chairman said.

Other steps to improve north-south routes include replacing a two-lane overpass on La. 447 at I-12 with a four-lane overpass to improve flow for commuters and for people trying to reach Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Walker.

Bob Anderson is the Florida Parishes bureau chief for The Advocate. He can be reached at banderson@theadvocate.com.