Perkins Road widening project explained

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Laurence Lambert, a principal with Stantec, right, listens to concerns Terry Hodges, who owns a business on Perkins Road, during a public information meeting about the proposed widening of Perkins Road (LA 427) on Wednesday at St. George Church.  Hodges said he's in favor of the widening, but one of the proposed turn-arounds cuts through a vacant lot that he is in the process of developing. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Laurence Lambert, a principal with Stantec, right, listens to concerns Terry Hodges, who owns a business on Perkins Road, during a public information meeting about the proposed widening of Perkins Road (LA 427) on Wednesday at St. George Church. Hodges said he's in favor of the widening, but one of the proposed turn-arounds cuts through a vacant lot that he is in the process of developing.

Road to be widened to four lanes

When Dane Torres was a little girl, she used to sit at the end of her driveway on a quiet Perkins Road and watch for cars.

“Because if a car was coming it would be coming to visit us,” she said Wednesday night outside of St. George Catholic Church off Siegen Lane.

Now as an adult who owns the house she grew up in, Torres said sometimes traffic is so heavy it prevents her from being able to get out of her driveway.

Torres said she recognizes that Perkins Road needs to be widened to relieve traffic, but the proposed plans could take 37½ feet of her front yard.

She was one of the dozens of local residents from the area who attended an informational meeting Wednesday night to inform residents about plans to widen Perkins Road.

The road widening is planned from 1,000 feet west of Siegen Lane to 1,000 feet east of Pecue Lane.

The new proposed roadway will include a median, sidewalks and a shoulder for bicyclists.

Project planners showed locals three alternatives of how the road could look with three different sized medians.

Torres said she hopes the city-parish will choose the option that takes the least amount of her property.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “As a land owner, I find that there are very little rights that you have.”

The project is included in the Green Light Plan, the city-parish’s voter-approved, half-cent sales tax funded road improvements program.

The majority of the road improvements were funded with $273 millions of bonds issued by the city-parish, but there is no money left from bonds to spend.

The Perkins Road widening is one of a handful of projects that is considered “pay-as-you-go” — meaning the money to finance the projects must be accumulated slowly with tax revenue over the years.

Officials say they are hopeful that federal funding will become available to expedite some of the projects. That means for the time being, it’s unclear how soon the project could be finished.

The informational meeting Wednesday gave residents a chance to provide feedback on the project, which is in the environmental impact phase that qualifies the project for federal dollars.

Road projects for Old Hammond Highway, the Pecue Lane Interchange, and Hooper Road are also pay-as-you-go projects, that officials hope to receive federal funds for.

At least 26 road improvement projects have been completed since the Green Light Plan was put in place in 2005.

Bryan Harmon, deputy city-parish public works director, said fewer federal dollars have been available in recent years than initially expected, but he still expects federal funds to come through for “at least a project or two.”

“From day one of the program we’ve always known that 75 percent of the plan could be built quickly (from bond money), and the remainder would take more time, but it’s always been our desire to chase the federal dollars,” Harmon said.

The Perkins Road widening project cost was estimated at $26 million in 2006, but the estimate is now considered outdated and needs to be revised, said John Snow, a Green Light Plan spokesman.