Longtime O'Neal Lane construction hurting local businesses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Business owners along O'Neal Lane in Baton Rouge have been dealing with construction woes for years. Part of them stem from the East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President's Green Light project to widen O'Neal Lane.

Bill Francioni owns the Texaco gas station across from Ochsner Hospital on O'Neal. He says the construction has cut his business in half over a three year period.

"I've been just trying to keep things going so that none of the employees get laid off," Francioni said.

"We can't hold on much longer, especially when the average driver says, 'oh there's a nicer place over there- there's no bumps getting into this one.'"

City-parish officials admit the construction has been going on for some time, but say it's wrapping up soon. The problem for Francioni is after all is said and done, the road improvements will stop literally just feet before his gas station. The short section of O'Neal Lane in front of Francioni's gas station was left out of the project.

City-parish officials say capacity limits will be greatly improved throughout the area and hope to have the O'Neal improvements finished by January 2013.

Officials with the Green Light Project say it comes down to a cost issue and the best use of public funds.

The area directly in front of Francioni's business is already four lanes in both directions and the project that is causing him headaches will only tie into what is already in place.

Tom Losavio has a doctor's office along the same small section of O'Neal. He says the construction also makes it difficult for patients to get in and then get back out.

"It's kind of like having a garden hose where you made the garden hose fatter but you didn't open the front end or the exit coming out of it," Losavio said.

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