Mitigation agreement needed to start bypass road in Zachary

The City Council has agreed to enter into a wetlands mitigation agreement for the construction of a new bypass road.

City engineer Bianca Carambat told council members Tuesday there are 1.3 acres of wetlands that would be “disturbed” by the proposed road, which would run between La. 19 and La. 64.

The wetland area is behind the Walmart on La. 64.

The city will pay Gum Swamp Mitigation Bank $56,000 to essentially create a new wetland to replace the affected area. Such an agreement is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before they will release the city’s permit to build the road, Carambat said.

GAS TRANSMISSION: Carambat told the council the Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority has informed affected municipalities that use of an outdated natural gas pipeline owned by American Midstream between the state line and south Baton Rouge will be discontinued in about six months.

As a result of the closing of the pipeline, the city will have to stop using the transmission station on La. 964 and build a new one.

Because of growth in the city, a new station would have been needed in the future, but the pipeline closure will force the city’s hand, Mayor David Amrhein said.

He estimated the new transmission station would cost $400,000 to $500,000, which would come out of the surplus in the utility fund.

The city hopes to locate the new station on Carny Road, but is still looking at options, the mayor said.

The remaining station on McHugh Road would not provide enough gas for the needs of the city, he said.

“We could bring in gas with trucks if we needed to,” Amrhein said.

He said the city would not be without gas at any point.

BATHROOMS AND RAMPS: The city is going forward with a $125,000 project to build bathrooms and ramps on the historic Annison house, city Chief Administrative Officer Chris Calbert told the council.

The antebellum plantation home was donated to the city by Ethel Brabham Annison in 2002.

During Mayor Henry Martinez’s administration, the city received a grant of $140,000 from the state to use on improvements to the home.

In June, the council discussed using the funds for other projects.

A meeting with state officials made it clear that trying to redirect the money would likely result in the state revoking the grant.

Baton Rouge architectural firm Remson-Hailey Herpin had originally helped the city draw up plans for bathrooms and a ramp and agreed to resurrect the project for a $1,000 fee, Calbert said.

The firm estimated the work to cost $125,000. The grant must be used to build a separate restroom building that matches the original house and install handicapped accessible ramps on the house before any other state funds can be spent on the property.