by Elliott Stonecipher
For those of you within reach of the Shreveport Times, you may have read in either its online edition or Sunday’s print edition an op-ed I have written about the LA Hwy. 3132 Extension. The op-ed is as precise a summary of this issue as can be written within a 400-word limit. Please consider these few additional points.
The current position of those on the other side of this issue was set out in a front-page Times article a few weeks ago. Among those of us who have done this (pro bono) work for 2-1/2 years, nothing surprises us anymore from these officials and those whose work they are doing, but this was a breathtaking corker. According to the spokesperson for the other side, NLCOG (Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments) boss man Kent Rogers, the Hwy. 3132 Extension is being blocked by the Finish 3132 Coalition. This from the man who, along with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, convened and ran the NLCOG meeting on April 7, 2011 for the one and only purpose of killing the Extension.
Mr. Rogers’ (absence of) reasoning was set forth on his personal behalf, as well as for a few of his partners in the deal, including Esplanade developer Tim Larkin, the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LDOTD), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Mayor Glover, Esplanade financiers, along with a coterie of his attorneys and other close friends of our governor. (The involvement of each and all has been detailed on the Coalition website, www.finish3132.com, notably in the “3132apedia” section.) The upshot of Rogers’ outrageous allegation is that lawsuits filed by the Coalition are preventing the next phase of the “feasibility study” – which is no such thing, of course – to build the highway.
Permit me now to foul the Rogers humbug with a few facts and details he somehow neglected to mention to the Times reporter.
(1) The bulk of the litigation has been about Mr. Larkin’s connecting roadway from Flournoy-Lucas Road to Esplanade. Our Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) voted unanimously, not once but twice, against that roadway, and the Shreveport City Council voted twice against it in various appeals by Larkin (and Rogers, and Glover, and LDOTD … you get the picture). After the many months leading to those four votes, the day after the final vote Glover told his – not our, that’s for sure – City Engineer and City Attorney to issue the permit for the roadway, regardless. Given the city’s official action to “permit” the road, neither state or federal courts would issue injunctions to block it. That the road was 75% complete by that time is a not insignificant detail.
(2) Litigation on the merits of the case is now in progress. NLCOG / LDOTD / Glover / Larkin, et al, not only caused all the litigation, but forced its continuation by hiding alternate 3132 Extension route options during the first stage of the (supposed) study. The proof of that controlling fact is set out in several sections of the Coalition website. The evidence is incontrovertible, for those with an appreciation of that word, including emails from those who initially opposed the rigging of that first stage.
(3) If there is to be an Extension, undeveloped land near Flournoy-Lucas Road will be necessary. The only undeveloped land in the remaining route – the original preferred route has Twelve Oaks sitting atop it – is Esplanade. That is why the project’s consulting engineers and LDOTD project engineer drew the route deep into Mr. Larkin’s development, but were overruled by higher-ups. That unimproved land remains available. The other study routes – the only ones the public was allowed to see – would save Esplanade but, were they actually to be built, destroy the value of yet unknown numbers of homes in adjacent areas on both sides.
The larger and more important issue is the one I developed in the op-ed in the Times this weekend. In an American age in which the rule of law is fading in importance right along with much else good, decent, taxpaying Americans have long cherished, the 3132 Extension is Shreveport’s signature evidence of the illness.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is requested and appreciated.