Project to upgrade Zachary’s McHost Road is delayed

The long-delayed $3 million McHost Road improvement project remains stalled, City Attorney John Hopewell told the council Tuesday.

The street, which runs about 2.8 miles between La. 64 and Pride-Port Hudson Road, lacks shoulders and has several sharp curves. In some places, trees make visibility difficult along the road and it floods after heavy rains or when nearby White’s Bayou backs up.

The council agreed to fund the project in February 2010, during the administration of Mayor Henry Martinez.

The most recent delay involves the slow process of obtaining appraisals for the servitudes needed through private property along the road.

About 30 of more than 90 landowners have agreed to donate perpetual, 10-foot servitudes needed for the improvements.

Hopewell said that no appraisers he and Mayor David Amrhein contacted had expressed a willingness to do the work.

The mayor said that he was trying to find a local company familiar with the area.

“I don’t want to be charged $500-$1,000 per lot. East Baton Rouge told us that it would cost $1,000 per lot. That’s $96,000 just for appraisal,” he said.

He added that the company would not need to appraise the whole lot, but only the part needed for right of way.

After the meeting, Hopewell explained that even those servitudes that already have been donated need to be appraised in case the donation falls through. Appraisal is also necessary so that both the landowner and the city know what the property is worth.

For servitudes that have not been donated, appraisal is the first step for the city to take toward expropriating the property, Hopewell said. He estimated that the process of obtaining all the necessary servitudes will take two years.

The project will be paid for with $867,000 of road rehabilitation funds from the city-parish government, $100,000 of state money and $164,000 from city-parish drainage funds.

East Baton Rouge Parish and Zachary have entered into a local service agreement, meaning that they will cover the rest of the cost, assuming that the contract comes in under bid, Hopewell said.

Other business before the council included:

WATER PROJECT: City engineer Bianca Carambat told the council that the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program approved additional water line improvements on Cobb, Rankin and Church streets.

The program provided $800,000 for water line improvements in the Avenues and Old Slaughter Road. Since the project came in under bid, the city asked for approval to use the remaining $110,000 for additional work.

Under the stipulation of the grant, the new project must be in the same neighborhoods as the original work, Carambat said.