by Elliott Stonecipher
There is always something to be said for honesty, especially from a city and region’s only daily newspaper. Thus, we may choose to give the Shreveport Times a bit of credit for their front-page spread today. In that shocker of a piece to many, the newspaper opens the door for a “No Build” decision from the Stage 1 Feasibility Study for the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier.
On its Sunday print edition front-page, the Shreveport Times’ bolded sub-heads for their article are “Extend the loop?” on the left, and “Or Not?” on the right. Now, then, it’s official: The Times sees a dead 3132 Extension as a debatable alternative.
Now that we have that out in the open, we might want to remember a few meaningful facts, in context. A lot of friends of The Times have always wanted to kill the 3132 Extension …
….. “No Build” has long been mentioned / threatened by Kent Rogers at the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG), a go-to guy for The Times, for unknown reasons. Note that it was Rogers who joined with our MPC to permit the building of the Twelve Oaks subdivision atop the original 1992 preferred corridor route. He, too, with no public notification at all, of any kind, then moved the route across Bayou-Pierre. Larkin is now developing precisely within that new route, with Rogers’ help. Rogers is Mr. No Extension, we believe.
….. “No Build” is precisely what Tim Larkin must have, as just explained. Larkin bought his 137 acres for his subdivision knowing full well it was precisely where the Extension was officially set to be built. He went right ahead, regardless.
….. “No Build” is the preference of Mayor Cedric Glover, the enabler of Larkin in all the Bossier City pol has done in this context.
….. “No Build” is, of course, the preference of Larkin’s attorney, Tom Arceneaux, one of the Shreveport Times’ four “community editorial” writers. (In fairness, Arceneaux has not written a column on this issue yet, to our knowledge.)
Back to the Awful Beginning
In fact, the “No Build” decision from the Stage 1 Feasibility Study takes us back to April 7, 2011. Kent Rogers and NLCOG held the meeting that day at which Mayor Glover and Tim Larkin took over and led the action to kill the 3132 Extension, moving the traffic to the Flournoy-Lucas Road. The fact that NLCOG had and has no legal authority to take any such action meant nothing … they did it anyway. The three-plus years since have been spent by our Coalition and many others trying to repair the damage. The Times this morning reminds us of the bad, bad old days of the Extension’s past few years.
The Hwy. 3132 Extension Stage 1 Study
We learned Friday of the 3132 Extension’s final – Stage 1 – feasibility study commencement. This is good news. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there were some on the other side of this issue, notably NLCOG, apparently working behind the scenes to end all of this at the Stage 0 study. Such would have allowed the death of the highway by default. Others of us, though, have been working behind the scenes to stop any such attempt.
The Stage 1 study which will determine either a final Extension route or proclaim a “No Build” decision, will be conducted under a contract between NLCOG, and engineering consulting firm Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc., a.k.a. “BKI.” The responsibility for protecting the broader interests of the community will fall to BKI. The Coalition has learned not to depend on NLCOG to honor the public will.
The Argument Against “No Build” from the Port of Caddo-Bossier
The Times article does include a very meaningful quote from the man who perhaps best knows what the Extension means:
“It’s of the utmost importance these connections be completed to provide the most efficient route to the Port of Caddo-Bossier from existing interstates,” port director Eric England said. “It’s needed today, and it’s needed for the future. It is critical that we exhaust all resources to preserve a corridor for the completion of 3132.”
Then, in supposed opposition to the man who knows, The Times reporter quotes from an LSU Baton Rouge engineering professor:
“People tend to think of a loop as a solution for everything. But analysis in Baton Rouge of the loop found if we invested just one-third of the money needed to build a loop into improving bottlenecks, we could have the same result,” Wilmot said. “Free-flowing traffic is the way to get the best bang for the buck.”
That must be as close as The Times could get to an expert who would oppose the Extension.
Now, People May Understand
For more than two years, our Coalition has been explaining that our daily newspaper had changed horses as it relates to the Extension. Readers may remember that it was a Times writer, Craig Durrett, who took information from a confidential source, and went public with the news about the April 2011 attempt to kill the Extension. He wrote those stories into 2012, but then left The Times.
Post-Durrett, The Times is anything but a supporter of the 3132 Extension to the Port. If we are wrong, The Times can prove it by a Sunday editorial taking an unambiguous position against a “No Build” decision from the Stage 1 Study.
Groups like our Port of Caddo-Bossier board, Chamber of Commerce, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Committee of 100, and Manufacturing Managers Council of Northwest Louisiana are now loudly warned. If they do not organize to stop this “No Build” train, that outcome from the Stage 1 Study is most likely.
NLCOG is, more than ever, driving this project. That is more than enough warning for anyone who wants the Extension.
Finish 3132 Coalition