CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A half-century old idea is resurfacing with hopes it will lessen the frustrated feeling many drivers get while sitting in traffic. Some state lawmakers from Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish are getting input from the public about extending Hooper Road in Central to Watson. If it happens, the connector would be the fifth major roadway between the two parishes.
Thousands of people may call Livingston Parish home but many of them commute to a job in Baton Rouge. That usually means a lot of traffic in the morning and evenings. In the event of an accident, that can also mean backups on I-12 which usually leads to bumper to bumper traffic on Florida Boulevard, leaving everyone trying to find an alternate route.
That leaves Central as the city to cut through.
"They've got to get there somehow," said Senator Bodi White. White and three other legislators have locked down one million dollars from the state for a study to expand Hooper Road, giving drivers another east/west connection.
"It's a straight shot to I-110 and the airport," White said.
The plan would mean three miles of new construction in Watson, almost to the old Live Oak High School and three miles of widening Hooper Road.
Neighbors In Action, the group in Watson that so adamantly opposed the loop says they like this plan because it means infrastructure without destroying a bunch of homes in its path.
White says the two-lane roads in Central see 22,000-25,000 cars a day. He says they are operating at double capacity. Two lane roads are only supposed to handle 12,000 cars, he says. White adds, Hooper Road Extension and the current Magnolia Bridge can handle 40,000 cars a day.
For that to happen, they're hoping for federal dollars to cover more than half the $140-150 million price tag.
"Hoping we can get as much as 65-70 percent of federal dollars, which would make it doable for the state to proceed in project," said White.
Central residents will give their input Tuesday night, Watson residents will have their turn Wednesday night. White says the process could take five to six years before the extension is complete.