DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Livingston Parish residents are being asked to weigh in on if $1 million in surplus money should be used to pave existing roads or to begin work on the Juban Road Extension. A special meeting to discuss the issue has been called for Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.
Council chairman Chance Parent says at the last council meeting, the parish president declared a surplus. Parent says sales tax has picked up and the taxes from Juban Crossing have started to come in.
"Everybody said put it on Juban Crossing. That failed 5-4," Parent said. "We have the opportunity now to buy the right-of-way for Juban Extension to make it a shovel ready project."
Parent said that money would allow them to buy enough land for a four-lane road from 190 to Lockhart Road, where the Juban Extension would tie in with Burgess Road.
He says after the last meeting, the public began calling him and asking for relief on Juban Road. It would alleviate traffic in Denham Springs and Walker.
"To move 20,000 cars a day off Walker South and Highway 16, I think it's a badly needed project," Parent said. He added, sometimes it takes 15 or 20 light cycles on Walker South before someone gets over the overpass.
At least two council members and the parish council attorney have said they would not be able to attend the special meeting because of prior engagements.
The council attorney wrote in an email to council members that because the money is a surplus, they would have to amend the budget in order to use the money now. Joan Landry, one of the council members, says the parish will be operating on a new budget in a few months so there is no need to rush on the Juban project.
Layton Ricks, the Livingston Parish President, said the special meeting was surprisingly called while he is out of town. By phone, he said, he believes the Juban Extension is a good project, but the timing is off. Not only that, he says that money is marked for working on existing roads.
Ricks said there are no federal or state dollars to fund the remainder of the project.
There's also some discrepancy as to how much it would cost. Parent says the total cost would be around $8 million. Ricks says it will be more than $10 million.
He says the extension would cross a railroad track and in his conversations with the head of CN Railroads, they want an overpass in order for the extension to cross the tracks.
Parent says the new road would be a win across the parish, not only moving traffic but adding infrastructure for what is coming to the Juban shopping area.
"Four more phases, two car dealerships coming, Lowe's coming. All these projects and the bulk of the population is in Watson. Those people are going to want to get to Juban - not go through Denham. It's also a way for Central, too."