Dove outlines Hollywood, Westside projects

Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove says a major Houma traffic headache and some key flood control projects are on track despite state belt-tightening, and that for one – the Hollywood Road widening project – there is a flickering light at the end of the tunnel.

During an update on the parish’s current projects during a Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, Dove said the much-delayed Hollywood Road project could be finished by October.

According to Dove, the contractors working on Hollywood, Providence GSE, have completed subsurface drainage on the road’s north side and are about halfway done on the south side. Terrebonne Parish Captial Projects Administrator Jeanne Bray said the drainage work is the last step before Providence can pave the roadway.

The widening project has been a major thorn in the side of travelers along Hollywood Road. Near Vandebilt Catholic High School and the busy Martin Luther King Boulevard, Hollywood has been a regular home to backed-up traffic as construction has gone on.

The construction itself has sometimes moved at a crawl. Work was originally slated to begin in early 2014 but was pushed back until the summer of that year. When construction started, Providence set a January 2016 completion date. However, weather delays and challenges with relocating utilities slowed the project’s progress. Recently, the state approved 24-hour work on Hollywood, allowing Providence and subcontractors to speed up the schedule. Dove said Providence is looking at an October completion, although the project’s history has him hesitant to embrace that date with both arms.

“They’re telling us October, and I’m going to wait and see for that October day. We’re going to look for that day,” Dove said.

The Westside Boulevard extension from Martin Luther King to Enterprise Drive is also currently set to finish in October, although that project is ahead of schedule. According to Bray, contractor Byron Talbot has until January to complete the extension but has been able to move ahead. The extension will feature a roundabout where Westside meets Enterprise, the first of its kind in Terrebonne. The extension will also feature bike paths as part of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s complete streets policy.

“We look at [bike paths for] every road project we have. A lot of times it comes down to funding, and if we have the money to do it,” Bray said.

The new parish facilities on Government Street in Gray are also set to be finished in 2016. Dove said the new Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter is a “few months away,” while the Emergency Operations Center across the street could be finished by December.

The parish president spoke about Terrebonne’s capital outlay money headed down from Baton Rouge after legislators wrapped up their final special session before the new fiscal year began. According to Dove, Terrebonne will receive $3.9 million for the Bayou Country Sports Park in 2016-17. Gov. John Bel Edwards also agreed to send $15 million to Terrebonne for the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system. Dove said he also has plans to ask the parish council to shift $17 million from the Bayou Dularge levee construction to the Falgout Canal floodgate, the final floodgate in the southern portion of the system. He said the floodgate must be prioritized because it is an essential barrier to flooding on the system’s southwestern side.

“If we don’t come back and build the Dularge system, it actually doesn’t do a lot of good unless you build the Falgout Canal floodgate, because you’re going to flood from the Bayou Dularge side,” the parish president said.

Dove said the Whiskey Island restoration project, which he has consistently prioritized as essential to coastal protection from storms, should begin by August, following a December ,2015 start date was delay. The $118 million operation will add 10.4 million cubic yards of sand to the barrier island. Dove said the plan includes adding segmented breakwater rocks to all sides of the island, which will enable it to trap sediment from nearby waters and build up the island further.

“Once we pump that, we’ll never see that kind of money again,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to go with the segmented breakwater rocks.”