During last Thursday’s West Baton Rouge Parish Council meeting, public works director Kevin Durbin shared what he deemed was a win for the parish involving the LA 1/LA 415 connector project.
Earlier this month, the state’s joint transportation committee met at the capitol and voted to accelerate the delivery of the long-awaited traffic relief project by using alternative project delivery methods instead of traditional delivery.
“The traditional way they deliver public works projects is they design it and then they bid it, then they build it. That’s called traditional delivery,” Durbin explained. “What the legislature voted on is called alternative delivery, so instead of having design it, bid it, build it, you bring your contractor in early in the process. There’s cost savings and you can accelerate the process a little bit.”
Durbin said the funding for the project is essentially locked in after the legislature convened.
Council member Chris Kershaw asked Durbin if the change to an alternative delivery helps the parish and Durbin’s answer was emphatically “yes.”
“It shows that DOTD believes in the project by going to the legislature and asking for this,” he said. “It shows that the legislature is committed to the project and it can help accelerate the proj
ects schedule and save on cost. It’s a major victory for the 415 project. Even though we’re still looking at (construction starting) 2023-2024, the fact that the funding can be locked in is a huge win for the project.”
The project – spearheaded by state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, among others, was part of House Bill 578, sponsored by state Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma.
The bill appropriates $700 million from the BP oil spill settlement to the connector project at La. 415, along with six other infrastructure bills statewide.
The connector is a three-mile road that bypasses the LA 1 corridor at the Intracoastal Waterway bridge and provides another access point to I-10 and the Mississippi River Bridge. The four-lane divided roadway will extend south from I-10 at the LA 415 exit over the Intracoastal Waterway to North Line Road and connect with LA 1.
Council awards cost of living raise
The council voted unanimously to award all full-time parish employees a four percent cost of living raise, which goes into effect July 1, 2021.
The fire department receives a two-percent raise annually, so the council voted to add another two percent on top for those employees to get to four percent.
The total cost of the raise is $360,000.
The council approved a resolution in January, which was an acknowledgment of the council’s commitment to provide a 20 percent match to the Capital Region Planning Commission and LADOTD for various projects.
On Thursday evening, Durbin said six projects were submitted to the planning commission and two sets of projects were going to be combined.
The Choctaw Road and Lukeville Lane sidewalk projects in Brusly will become one project. The project is expected to cover both sides of Lukeville Lane and Choctaw Road for an estimated cost of $1.5 million.
The Court Street and LA 415 tourist commission projects will be tied together. The project will total $1.9 million and will consist of a sidewalk all the way down court street and tie back into commercial drive and around the tourist commission. A 10-foot wide multiuse path is a part of the project. The council will need to provide a 20 percent match on each project.