Follow the Houma area’s urbanized road

The Houma-Thibodaux metropolitan area is growing, as evidenced by the somewhat serious traffic problems clogging Houma.

But a map put together by the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer and displayed at a recent meeting of the Houma-Thibodaux Metropolitan Planning Organization seems to stretch the meaning of the term “urbanization.”

The map showed Raceland, Mathews and Lockport all lying within an area Neel-Schaffer identified as urbanized as of the year 2000.

By 2025, the map shows urbanization stretching from Thibodaux to south of Dulac and by 2034, the hazily-defined urbanized area may include Chackbay and Golden Meadow. Chackbay (population 4,018), as a near suburb of Thibodaux, could perhaps reasonably be classified as “urbanized” by that year, but to include Golden Meadow (population 2,193) – with its location so near the Gulf – stretches the term to the breaking point.

At the meeting, South Central Planning and Development Commission CEO Kevin Belanger was anticipating the up-to $500 million Gov. Jindal wants expended on roads in Louisiana from the fiscal-only special session. Belanger said $200 million of the half-billion dollars is expected to go to urbanized areas – which would include Houma-Thibodaux – although $100 million would be reserved for the larger urbanized areas of Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

Additionally, $200 million is reserved for rural areas, which could be sent to non-urbanized areas of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.

Going by his comments at recent MPO meetings, Belanger has been on a low-level crusade to begin a road-building program in the state.

“Why are we not building as much lane miles as we did in the 1930s, given our better technology?” he has said more than once. With special-session road-building money on the way, Belanger may have his answer.