Hammond council signals support for key road project

The City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to signal its support for proposals to connect University Avenue with Pride Drive, creating only the second east-west corridor through the city.

The council authorized the city’s grants department to apply for a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant for the project.

The director of the city’s grant’s department, Lacy Landrum, said such grants are awarded to cities to plan for major traffic improvements.

The resolution calls for a $300,000 contribution to the project from Hammond’s grants matching fund. Landrum said the city’s money would not be spent unless the city is awarded the grant.

Hammond officials have been discussing for years the extension of University Avenue to Pride Drive and then on to nearby U.S. 190 east of the city.

The approximately three-mile-long stretch would connect Southeastern Louisiana University with Hammond’s Northshore Regional Airport and the nearby Northshore Technical College.

University Drive starts on the west of the city at Interstate 55.

If the extension of that thoroughfare is completed, it would connect the interstate directly to the airport and to points east of Hammond.

Landrum said considerable planning and a feasibility study would have to be before any actual construction can start. The proposed extension of University Drive would pass through some existing neighborhoods and the effect of the proposed road on the residents would have to be considered.

Factors to be weighed during the planning process, Landrum said, include the general impact on the public, the availability of affordable housing for any displaced residents, economic factors that might be affected by the roadway and the manner in which it might ease the flow of traffic through Hammond.

Landrum said the busiest corner in Hammond is the intersection of West Thomas Street, (U.S. 190) and Morrison Boulevard, (U.S. 51).

If University Drive were to be completed to U.S. 190 east of the city, traffic on Thomas and Morrison would be considerably reduced.