Gonzales residents frustrated with Hwy 61 construction

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - People who use Airline Highway to get around Ascension Parish have lost their patience with the state. Motorists claim work along the roadway, which started in April, has stopped.

Airline Highway is the main artery through Gonzales. When it is blocked, people's blood starts to boil. Lately, they've been faced with navigating construction cones, signs and equipment parked in the median.

"Oh, Lord. It's been months, and I travel up and down Airline all the time. It's taking so long for Airline to get finished. This intersection (at Hwy 44) in particular is terrible because you have to drive so far down to do a U-turn and back to get to certain businesses," Deanna Colbert said.

"Sometimes they'll block off single lanes and there isn't a soul working," Fritz Englade said.

The only contractors working while 9News was there were across the street moving dirt on the future site of a Smoothie King. Independent contractor, Dempsey Pendarvis and business owners are worried when the state project is finished it will affect their bottom line.

"When you take that accessibility (driveways) away you just assume destroy the value of the property. You can't get into it with a helicopter," Pendarvis said.

Motorists have to drive several blocks just to make a legal U-turn. People who drive the route to and from work say they do not understand what is going on there. They are getting impatient.

"I'm ready for it to be over. It seems like it's been going on for quite some time," Bradley Bryan said.

"It's just so stagnate, and it gets frustrating after a while. I mean, my God, let's get this thing done. Get it over with and let us enjoy what you're trying to do," Englade said.

Spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Jodi Conachen, said the agency met with a group of business owners Tuesday morning to discuss additional points of access.

The improvements, which include an overlay and the addition of J-turns, to Airline Hwy are scheduled to be finished in January 2013.

Conachen added, the state has restricted the contractor to night closures as to not impede traffic flow or business interactions.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.