St. Helena forming plan to fix 50 miles of ‘deplorable’ roads

The St. Helena Parish Police Jury on Wednesday began putting into motion a plan to renovate some of the parish’s dilapidated roads after residents approved tax rededications to generate funds for the repairs.

Police Jury President Major Coleman said jurors are looking to renovate just under 50 miles total, or about 8 miles in each of the parish’s six districts, per year.

Coleman said the roadways come from a priority list written when the parish created a master plan of development about two years ago.

The discussion comes after voters in May approved a rededication of a 5-mill property tax that used to support a now-defunct parish health unit and one-half of 1 percent of a 1-cent sales tax that funds the parish’s solid waste collection and disposal services.

Coleman said the new rededicated funds should generate about $600,000 per year.

Members of the Police Jury discussed road plans at a Road Committee meeting Wednesday night.

No formal action was taken at the committee meeting. The full Police Jury will further discuss and possibly vote on a road plan at its meeting Tuesday.

Coleman said the full Police Jury will discuss how much money the parish will need either to borrow or bond to complete the road projects.

Coleman said jurors are not sure at this time how long it will take to repair the roads, as they are still developing plans for the renovations.

“We only have the money for about 10 years, then we have to redo it,” Coleman said.

Coleman, who is serving his second term as a police juror, said no action has been taken on the parish’s roads since he has been a member of the Police Jury until now.

“We had no funds, and our roads are just in deplorable condition,” Coleman said. “A majority of people supported it (the tax rededication).”

Coleman had proposed during the meeting that jurors look for about 4 miles of road in each of their districts to nominate for renovations.

Coleman and Juror Jule Charles Wascom pointed out that the parish would need to contact engineers to examine the roads before beginning the projects.