Thursday morning(July 28), the key committee of the North Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) voted to proceed with a $1,000,000 “Stage 0” study of route options for the extension of Hwy. 3132 to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. One of the route options specifically included for study came from the work of the 3132 Coalition (SEE the Coalition website here.), and was introduced publicly for the first time in today’s meeting.
The voice vote of the NLCOG transportation committee to approve the Coalition route option had no votes against, though Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover did not express a vote on any related motions. The motion in favor of the Coalition route option was made by MPC Chairman Charles Kirkland, and seconded by Eric England, Executive Director of the Port of Caddo-Bossier. The feasibility study approved today is expected to take up to eighteen (18) months to complete, though an expedited schedule was discussed and supported by various committee members.
The 3132 Coalition, brought together by Willis-Knighton Health Systems President Jim Elrod, has worked for several months to undo the original NLCOG action on April 7, 2011 which effectively killed Hwy. 3132 at its intersection with Flournoy-Lucas Road. Even after intense public opposition yielded a reversal of the project’s intended termination, only three routes were included in the subject feasibility study roster, at least two of which had obvious and inarguable defects. (As an example, the route preferred by Mayor Glover would have required the abandonment of a significant portion of the present 3132 leg from Bert Kouns to Flournoy-Lucas, and would have run directly through the new, $100,000,000+ Oaks of Louisiana retirement development.)
The Coalition’s suggested route for the extension of Hwy. 3132 to the Port was developed in cooperation with the state highway department. Aided by the work of State Senator Sherri Cheek, Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LA DOTD) officials – including Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda – worked with Coalition members in the effort, particularly with Bob Bassinger and Desi Sprawls of BBC Engineering.
The Coalition’s work was specifically intended to identify and recommend a “No Losers” route which accomplished at least these objectives:
… the redirection of truck traffic off Flournoy-Lucas Road, thus guarding the public safety of those living and working on the newly expanded artery,
… meeting the needs of the Twelve Oaks and Esplanade residential developments,
… maximally protecting Bayou Pierre and other wetlands in the area, and
… protection of the interests of area property owners, most notably by maximizing the use and value of their land.
THE COALITION’S PROPOSED HWY. 3132 EXTENSION ROUTE
As you open the attached .pdf of the map of the Coalition’s proposed route, you may need to increase the size of the view as necessary (200% on my computer).
Note that while the map shows an “at-grade” crossing of 3132 at Flournoy-Lucas (upper left-hand of the map), a bridge would be constructed as soon as possible, just as with the last-completed bridge over 3132 at Bert Kouns. (The green triangle of lands/woods at the Flournoy-Lucas origin of the extension is the 16-acre tract owned by the City of Shreveport.)
You will notice that the route passes between Twelve Oaks and the Esplanade development’s bridge over Bayou-Pierre. It crosses Bayou-Pierre just below the new Esplanade bridge, thus staying well out of the way of associated vehicle traffic during construction of that development. Situated, then, against Bayou-Pierre on its opposite side from Twelve Oaks (and behind the existing tree-line), the route would reduce to a minimum the amount of owners’ land which would be unavailable for other uses. This is a “controlled access” road, and the diamond-shaped traffic interchange – mid-point in its path to its intersection with Hwy. 1 – would serve further development of the area. In a critically important advantage, the route does not require a new railroad crossing at Hwy. 1. It’s Hwy. 1 intersection is just above the entrance to the Port of Caddo-Bossier.
At this very early point in time, ball-parking the cost of this highway is little more than guess-work, but the best guess is in the $40,000,000 range. Various funding sources have been identified, and though it is far too early to dive into those bushes and weeds, it is clear that the speed of project completion is directly tied to how much local and state funding – rather than federal – is required.
Those of us volunteering on this project well understand how far we are from successful completion of the Hwy. 3132 extension to the Port. Though each of us is acutely aware of the many obstacles ahead, we also know that the public support has been more than loud enough to alert local politicians to our community’s commitment to get this project done.
Personally, I don’t know what else any of us can do, just as I know how much it means that so many “just plain folks” are helping. On behalf of all of us in the Coalition, I thank each and every one of you. To others, we need all the help we can get!
(As always, please feel free to forward this piece as you choose, in an unedited form.)
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