Lafourche anticipates completion of several projects in ’13

Thibodaux growing slowly and steadily
November 13, 2012
Tri-parish area’s recreation boasts increased interest
November 13, 2012
Thibodaux growing slowly and steadily
November 13, 2012
Tri-parish area’s recreation boasts increased interest
November 13, 2012

Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph said a litany of long-awaited parish projects would be completed within the next 12 months, building on the relatively modest gains the parish made in 2012.

Two major funding sources – federal grants and bonded sales tax revenues – are expected to materialize tens of millions of dollars worth of projects within the next couple of years.

“The federal process is much longer than the local, but we should see all of these come to fruition,” Randolph said of a list of projects included in the parish’s proposed 2013 budget.

Some of the infrastructure projects anticipated to be completed have been in the works for years.

Significant improvements to the Jesse Dufrene Pump Station, which first received funding in 2006, are expected to begin early next year.

Long-awaited construction on the Twin Oaks drainage system is about halfway through the original timeline, set for completion early next year. Construction is also under way on a new community center for Raceland’s Alidore neighborhood. Laurel Valley Road, an alternate route to La. Highway 20, is being made into a legitimate roadway. And funding is in place for a public boat launch in Leeville.

Most of that work – with the exception of the parish-funded improvements to the Jesse Dufrene station, located in Gheens, and local contributions to the Leeville boat launch – is grant funded.

Laurel Valley Road, a shell road that connects La. Highway 308 to Choctaw Road and the Kraemer-Chackbay-Bayou Boeuf region, is being paved and elevated. The road is an alternate route to La. Highway 20.

Phylway Construction, based in Thibodaux, is the lead contractor and is working ahead of schedule. The $3.5 million project could be complete by February, said Councilman Michael Delatte.

The District 2 councilman said Highway 20 is closed an average of 25 times a year due to wrecks, which clogs traffic. It will also reduce the time to get to area hospitals from the north Lafourche region, and alleviate traffic during hurricane evacuation.

“Anything that happens to La. (Highway) 20 cuts the main artery,” Delatte said. “Traffic has to detour either to (U.S.) Highway 90 or Spur 70,” which are miles out of the way.

The community of Alidore, located off La. Highway 308 in Raceland, should see its new gathering place opened early next year. The $1 million facility is expected to house a Head Start program and school-aged tutoring programs, meeting rooms and recreational activities, Councilman Lindel Toups said.

Drainage and water line improvement projects are also scheduled for the Alidore community.

Also in Raceland, the residents of Twin Oaks Subdivision along La. Highway 1 are awaiting completion of a drainage project that would divert rainwater to Bayou Lafourche rather than through their neighborhood. The $1.4 million project began in August.

Even light rains cause flood concerns in the area, and when it floods, it wreaks havoc on the sewer system, compounding the nuisance even when homes don’t take on water. It should be complete in the first quarter of next year.

The dilapidated Jesse Dufrene pump station and accompanying levee will also be revamped as part of a $1.8 million project. The parish will add a pump and restore a caving levee, Toups said.

“We’re getting a lot of work done right now,” said Toups, who represents Raceland and Gheens.

The boat launch has long been anticipated in Leeville. It will cost approximately $1 million, split 50-50 between state government and Lafourche Government, which is complemented with funds from the Greater Lafourche Port Commission.

These projects, only a sampling of what Randolph said would be completed within the next 14 months, cost a combined $8.7 million. Of that total, the local tax-to-grant funding ratio is roughly 4-to-6.

About two dozen more projects, ranging from seawall and drainage improvements in Lockport, several pump stations throughout the parish, a business incubator and road paving in south Lafourche, could come to fruition next year.

That’s without considering the bond agreement that could infuse as much as $25 million into local projects in central and north Lafourche in the coming years. The state bond commission approved the deal last month, but the council will have the final say on accepting the agreement, a move it will likely make.

Randolph’s administration is in the process of compiling a list of streets to be paved in the sales tax district, which encompasses unincorporated areas north of the Intracoastal Waterway.

“I don’t know that we’ll spend the entire $25 million bond proceeds, but hopefully we’ll get to most of them in 2013,” Randolph said. “In fact, the money should be made available within the next month.”

Some of the bonded revenue will also go toward the parish’s drainage study, a list of $141 million worth of rainwater drainage system projects prioritized mostly by cost-to-population and presented to the council by T. Baker Smith over the summer. Some of these projects have designated grant funding.

All of these projects would build on their predecessors, a long line of projects pushed through in recent years.

This year, the parish completed the $1 million Raceland farmer’s market; finished renovations to the Mathews Government Complex, formerly a Wal-Mart store; completed construction of a concession and restroom building at Hero’s Park; replaced the Burma Road Bridge after it failed state inspection; saw the ribbons cut on a new library in Thibodaux and completed the Lockport Elevated Wetlands Boardwalk.

Combined, these projects cost roughly $8.1 million. Anchored by the $4 million library, about 60 percent of that total was paid for with local tax dollars, and the other 40 percent came from various grants.

The parish also completed other projects, such as improving roads in Road Sales Tax District 2, energy-efficiency projects in government buildings and upgrades to various pump stations.

Joseph Alexander of LA Contractors in Thibodaux concretes around drainage pipes in the $1-million Twin Oaks drainage improvement project near Raceland. Alexander is from Thibodaux.