Jindal announces La. 3177 resurfaced

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday the near completion of the resurfacing of La. 3177, a $3.4 million project that smoothed out the 5-mile, two-lane highway that runs south from the Louisiana Welcome Center on Interstate 10 to the village of Butte La Rose.

The highway, in St. Martin Parish, was one of the rural roads in Louisiana chosen for upgrades that will be paid for by the state out of $425 million it borrowed.

The Legislature made the decision in 2012 to take on debt by selling bonds to combat road disrepair.

“Many of these roads have been neglected for 20 or 30 years,” Jindal said at a news conference at the Welcome Center.

The now-smooth La. 3177 twists and turns for a few miles, running by numerous camps and residences before it gets to Doucet’s Grocery, near the Butte La Rose fire station.

“Resurfacing was sorely overdue,” said Mildred Roberts, who clerks in her sister’s store twice a week. Roberts’ sister, Buelah Doucet, has owned the store for 40 years. Doucet bought the grocery from her father, who owned it for 45 years.

“Potholes were the worst. It was broken all over,” Roberts said.

Jindal said the project was welcomed by the residents who live near the highway and also by the outdoor enthusiasts who have camps and launch their boats at public ramps.

He said businesses on the route — the Louisiana Sugar Cane Co-Op, Atchafalaya Crawfish Processor and Cargill Salt — also will benefit.

Jindal was joined Wednesday by a number of state and local elected officials.

State Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, whose district includes some of St. Martin Parish, didn’t wear out his welcome at the lectern.

“It’s recreation. It’s tourism. It’s food,” he said before relinquishing the stand to another speaker.

Other speakers credited longtime St. Martin Parish public servant Lloyd “Red” Higginbotham with pushing the resurfacing project relentlessly in the years before he died in March.

La. 3177 was but one project among many in Louisiana — 5 miles among 1,100 miles of bad rural roads — slated for repairs using the $425 million, Jindal’s office said.

“The Legislature passed a bill in the 2012 legislative session to bond out the State Highway Improvement Fund, which was created exclusively to fund state roads classified as non-federal aid routes that are not eligible for federal funding and are mostly rural routes,” Jindal’s office said in a release.

The highway improvement fund was an initiative pushed by the Jindal administration.