Proposal: New route to connect Central to Watson

WATSON, LA (WAFB) - A new route between Livingston and the northern end of East Baton Rouge Parish is what officials are proposing.

On Wednesday and Thursday nights, meetings were held to address those who would benefit from this and those it would impact.

"It would be a convenience for a lot of us," said Central resident Jesse James.

It's a convenience some say was needed yesterday. The problem many commuters drive into every morning and evening is traffic bottlenecking at the Magnolia Bridge Rd., the closest route that links Central to Watson right now. Other choices include Florida Blvd., I-12 or a bridge up in St. Helena.

But the State Department of Transportation and Development is looking to fix that.

"There is a need to extend Hooper Road into Livingston Parish. That will alleviate traffic off the existing streets we have right now: Wax, Sullivan, LA 64, LA 16 also LA 1019 in Livingston Parish," said DOTD's project manager Nick Olivier.

Currently, Hooper Rd. dead ends into Greenwell Springs in Central, but the proposal would actually extend Hooper over the Amite River into Watson connecting it to Highway 16 in Livingston Parish.

The project also includes expanding Hooper Rd. at Sullivan from two to four lanes, and all the way up till Highway 16 in Watson, would be four lanes. Plus, there would be two bridges over the Amite River. For people like Boyd Hood who live along Hooper Rd., that could mean giving up some of his property for the expansion, but he said he has no problem with that.

"Sometimes, I have to sit in my driveway. To get out, it will take four to six minutes to make a turn to just get in the traffic and that's usually in the mornings and evenings," said Hood.

With a tag of up to $100 million, it's the price many say two small towns need to pay thanks to all the recent developments have turning the country into the city.

The project is still in the planning phase. Environmental approval is expected by the end of this year. The design process will then take two years, so it may be at least 2016 before the route is reality.

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