Hooper Road widening raises concerns for business owners

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - The widening of Hooper Road, in the City of Central, has been planned for several years. City officials say it has been one of the planned projects on Mayor Kip Holden's Green Light Plan.

Tuesday evening, residents were able to have their questions answered from the contractor doing the work and representatives from the Department of Transportation and Development. People in Central have said they are ready for the project to start, but there are some who are concerned.

Shauntelle Fisher has had a business on Hooper Road for three years. She moved her salon, The Looking Glass, to a house on the corner of Hooper and Shoe Creek Drive. Her business has picked up, but she says so has the traffic outside.

City officials say the last traffic study showed 15,700 cars pass there everyday.

"You come out here at five in the afternoon and it's bumper to bumper," said David Barrow, the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Central.

He says Hooper Road is a major east west corridor between Livingston Parish, East Baton Rouge and Central. In a few years, Hooper will be extended to cross the Amite connect in Watson. When that happens, things are predicted to get more congested.

"There's only three ways from East Baton Rouge to Livingston, this is one of the ways," Barrow said.

The plan for Hooper calls for two lanes in each direction, with a median. Before any construction, the contractor and the state will need to buy the private land for right-of-ways between Blackwater Road and Sullivan Road.

It's how far the road will come over that's a concern for Fisher. Her salon is already close to the road.

"My parking lot is going to be part of the road at some point. Or a good part of my parking lot, and that does worry me," she said.

Not only that, she's worried about other business owners who will be in the construction zone and may possibly lose customers who are confused about where to turn in to the businesses. Something she says is important to her, since she gets new clients.

While she says the widening will help the traffic congestion, it's the process of getting the end result that could present a problem.

"It'll look so much nicer and be so much easier after. It's just the before and the during that I'm concerned about."

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