by Elliott Stonecipher
No subject within the Hwy. 3132 Extension saga now raises more questions than who in the world, all things considered, would be buying lots in developer Tim Larkin’s swanky “Esplanade” subdivision. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the first article on this subject, and I followed just a few days ago with a related article about a Shreveport Times story.
The subject now of greatest interest to our Finish 3132 Coalition members is well identified in a comment emailed to us recently by a strong supporter and friend:
“Whoever Buys a Larkin Lot Is a Rotten Egg! <—- would make a nice BIG SIGN.”
The sentiment, of course, is front-and-center with those who strongly believe the 1996 election by Shreveporters should determine the outcome of this fight. In that election, 66% voted “yes” on a bond issue for completion of the Extension to the Port. The writer’s point, shared by many, is that anyone who supports what Larkin and his troupe are doing is knowingly working to defeat the will of the people.
(I admit that I love the sign idea. Perhaps the City Council would approve placement of it on the taxpayer-owned 16-acre tract on Flournoy-Lucas. We could make it two-sided so everyone getting off 3132, and those leaving Larkin’s place, see it … every time.)
Likely, prospective lot-buyers – to the extent that they actually exist and have really put their money down – have been told a Burger King full of whoppers about what is really going on with the highway. Apparently, “official” sources are telling these prospects that the fix is in, and there will never be a Hwy. 3132 Extension.
Such is not new. In 2012, the Coalition identified a top-ranking public official as a then-source of that same “secret” assertion and promise: “Oh, don’t worry, we killed the Extension.” He was speaking to a Twelve Oaks resident who lived next door to the lot this official then owned. The official, as will likely surprise no one, is one of five Executive Committee members of NLCOG.
What We Know
Late last week the contract for the Stage 1 Feasibility Study was signed between BKI, the engineering firm, and NLCOG. This final stage of studying is supposed to last a year-and-a-half. At the end, BKI will either recommend a specific route, or recommend “No Build.” The second article linked above details the back-story on any “No Build” determination.
Notably, language in the contract documents includes this:
Contract, Pg. 1, “Project Description”
The improvements that are to be undertaken under this Project consist of right of way clearance and development of a new four-lane controlled access facility within the urban area of Shreveport. The new facility will run in a general north-south direction between LA 523 (Flournoy-Lucas Rd) to the future Interstate Highway 69 west of its intersection with LA 1 and the proposed I-69 bridge crossing the Red River.
This language is a dagger in the heart of those who have peddled the insane notion – and pure politics – that the route should move from Bert Kouns Industrial Loop on the north, then through properties on the north side of Flournoy-Lucas owned by St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton church, The Oaks of Louisiana, and others. (The Oaks, as most are aware, is owned by Willis-Knighton Health System.) Were this route to be (politically) selected, the City of Shreveport would first be required by the FHWA to repay it $25 million-ish for the most recently completed leg of the Extension between Bert Kouns and Flournoy-Lucas.
Then, under the “Project Description” portion of the contract documents, on Page 2, is this language:
The new facility will provide an alternative route for industrial traffic around the rapidly growing residential areas along La 523 (Flournoy-Lucas Rd) to the employment centers of Shreveport and Bossier City that will alleviate congestion, and reduce travel delay along the other facilities and provide connection to the future Interstate Highway 69 to the existing loop system consisting of I-220 to the north and La 3132 from I-20 to its current terminus at La 523 (Flournoy-Lucas Rd).
The reader may note the language, “… alleviate congestion, and reduce travel delay along the other facilities (highways) … .” Our mayor and his buds say Flournoy-Lucas, from its intersection with the 3132 Extension to LA Hwy. 1, is just fine to serve as this key segment of the 3132 Extension. The more sane people involved in this Huey Long-like hootenanny disagree. We add, for the record, that those whose lives are daily endangered along this strip also disagree with Glover, Inc.
What We Don’t Know
So, we return to the question: who in the world would buy a lot in Larkin’s folly / Esplanade? Is it only people with money to burn? Is it people who have been convinced by sellers that there will never be a highway? Are the few such houses underway actually just one more Larkin ruse, somehow merely creating the appearance of something which is not?
It is only fair to point out that the secrecy involved in this op, going back to Larkin’s purchase of the subject land eight-or-so years ago, is dearly protected by the do-ers. Heck, we’ve made it this far without Larkin’s sugar-daddy financiers being identified.
The Twelve Oaks subdivision sits atop the original preferred corridor route, determined in an exhaustive study in 1992. If Larkin wins, his Esplanade will sit atop the only place then left to build the Extension.
Typically, what the public doesn’t know hurts us. Such is the recent, at least, history of Shreveport. Also a key part of that history is that even when the liars are outed, and the evidence of the lies presented to the news media and public, there is no sanction.
Finish 3132 Coalition