The Terrebonne Parish Council passed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with La. DOTD to maintain mowing and litter pickup along certain highways at last night’s committee meeting.
The state of the parish’s roads including long grass and litter has been a hot topic and residents have been asking for some action from local leaders about the issue. Councilwoman Jessica Domangue said she was excited to see the resolution on the agenda for discussion. She asked if the agreement was possible, however, the response was that it was not economically feasible, so how much would the agreement be costing the parish?
Clay Naquin, Director of Solid Waste and Vegetation for the parish, said they originally looked at the option of completing the maintenance in-house, which wasn’t feasible in terms of equipment and manpower, “If I take any manpower or equipment off of present routes and assignments, it would be an issue,” he explained. They then contacted a parish contractor for a quote on helping with the job, “I was amazed at the price he gave us, “ he said.
Naquin said it was approximately $960 to cut the locations for the fiscal year. The state will be giving the parish $10,825 for up to four cuts for this fiscal year. With the contractor’s price, it would cost the parish around $20,000 which Naquin said $10,000 of his budget could be absorbed this year. “This is just for one year, what happens after this year, I don’t know,” he said.
When it comes to all of the highways in Terrebonne Parish, Naquin stated his department cannot handle it with the staff and equipment they currently have. He does have an RFP out for local parish roadside grass cutting which will give a better idea of what it would look like if they did the job of the state, but he said they currently have no idea what the cost would be or if it would be feasible.
“I want to say good job to you and to Mr. Guidry and everybody who worked on this because it’s absolutely needed and we absolutely need to find different ways to do things,” Domangue said. Councilman Daniel Babin then commented, “We actually talked about this about a year ago and we were talking about a larger scope than what we’re looking at right here…This approach is just to take, as you said, a small bite out of it, which is fine. It seems to be on the more visible state roads, which is good because our parish, no disrespect to you and your department, is not looking too good right now. Not from your efforts, just from a lot of people not taking care of their property.”
The department ordered tractors in June 2021, however, they did not come in until May of 2022. Naquin said he ordered five more in January of this year and they are scheduled to come anywhere between the end of October and to the beginning of November. It’s delays like this, along with the state only mowing major highways four times a year, that are creating issues. Babin chimed in again, “My point is if we want to carry forward and expand our program if we wait til’ the budget process, it might be a year before we get those tractors in to be able to accommodate doing any more work.”
Naquin said the biggest issue of cutting on the side of the road is the wires that haven’t been picked up from the storm that is getting caught in the equipment and causing damage, putting back the process even more. “The key we need to remember here,” Babin said, “We can’t get contractors. We can’t get equipment. If it’s taken a year to get tractors then we need to start thinking about what we’re going to do for next year because if we wait until budget time…then it doesn’t go into effect until 2024…It’s a good first step forward.”
Once the agreement is executed, the parish will maintain 5.88 miles of the following state highways:
– West Tunnel Blvd from Hollywood Rd. to Tunnel
– East Tunnel Blvd from Tunnel to Howard Ave
– LA 24 from St. George Rd to Schriever Overpass; and the ramps around the Schriever Overpass
– LA 20 from Schriever Overpass to LA 3185
– LA 3087 (Prospect) from the overpass to LA 316
Councilwoman Domangue stated on social media, “This is only a first start and we will reassess how this new program is working next year. If feasible, we will include more roadways into the program at that time. Thank you to President Dove and his administration for listening to our concerns and thank you to the council for working together to make this happen.”