Livingston officials looking at funding for 30 road projects

Livingston Parish has $500,000 more in road funds for this year’s overlay program than officials previously thought, but higher costs may eat up some of that bonus.

Parish President Layton Ricks said the parish can afford to inject the additional funds into this year’s project list, currently estimated at $3.4 million worth of work.

The list includes portions of 30 roads across the parish, with another 31 road segments falling under the parish’s three-year priority list for later funding years.

Councilman Marshall Harris said that rather than using the extra money to move unfunded roads into the lineup for this year’s projects, “we better make sure that what we have is going to cover the roads we have now.”

“I think $175,000 is going to be a tough number to get to,” Harris told council members Thursday, referring to earlier estimates of the average cost per mile for the work.

Engineer Jim Delaune, of Burk-Kleinpeter Inc., told the council on May 8 that the parish’s last overlay program in 2010 cost $3 million for 17.5 miles of roadwork, for a per-mile average of $171,400.

“If that number would hold for us into this project that we’re going to do now, we could do about 20 miles of the 27 miles that are on the list,” Delaune said May 8.

But the number didn’t hold. On Thursday, Delaune said the price per mile is likely to be around $300,000, based on estimates for the 30 road segments topping this year’s list.

Delaune said the cost will vary from one road to the next, depending on the work that must be done. Some roads will need extensive repairs, as well as drainage work to widen curves or correct safety problems, while others involve only patchwork.

The roads were prioritized according to their condition, safety concerns, public service access, traffic volume and each road’s “useful life,” or life expectancy, he said.

“We also tried to spread the money as best we could across the parish so everyone gets their fair share,” Delaune said.

Councilman Chance Parent questioned whether that was the best approach.

Parent told the council he had “real heartburn” over the heavily traveled roads in some districts that are in terrible shape but cannot be repaired in a single effort because of limited funding.

Instead, repairs to roads like South Satsuma, Perkins, Hammack and Chene Blanc will be done in stages as funding comes available.

Parent suggested the council consider delaying smaller road projects in some districts to allow larger projects in other districts to be completed.

Council Chairman Ricky Goff took Ricks to task for what Goff described as the parish president’s failure to prioritize a possible northern extension for Juban Road.

The project rounds out the parish’s unfunded portion of its priority road list, with an estimated expenditure of $200,000 to start the work.

Goff said the council resolved to have an engineering firm conduct an environmental assessment and do design work for the potential road extension, but the paperwork has stopped at Ricks’ desk.

“I have a real problem with it sitting on your desk for a year almost and not inking that contract to put that man to work to where we can move this project forward,” Goff told Ricks.

Ricks said he is not against the project but doesn’t agree with the timing.

Other improvements, such as the widening of bridges on Interstate 12, roadwork on U.S. 190, the Magnolia Bridge and the work done on Eden Church Road, may mean less traffic on Juban Road than Goff predicts, Ricks said.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.