LIVINGSTON, LA (WAFB) - The Livingston Parish Council voted Thursday to divide a million dollar surplus between resurfacing old roads and helping foot the bill for a road extension aimed at alleviating traffic.
Under the current vote, $250,000 would be set aside for the Juban Road extension, while another $750,000 would be used to fund the ongoing road improvements. However, that allocation could change after public input.
"We've got people sitting in traffic every single day, complaining and moaning and groaning. It's our responsibility to fix that," said Councilman Ricky Goff.
Goff recommended that the entire million dollar surplus be used to purchase the land for an extension on Juban Road, a decision he said he believes could alleviate traffic in the parish.
"What you need is to increase capacity," he said. "That is adding roads and adding lanes."
Other council members, who ultimately proposed splitting the money, said they wanted to finish current projects.
"We've got equipment on the ground, and moving equipment is very expensive," Councilwoman Joan Landry said.
Once the land is purchased, building the extension could costs millions of dollars more and take many years to finish. Council Chairman Chance Parent said he estimates the cost to be around $8 million. Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks meanwhile puts the cost at $10 million.
It is also not clear if the million dollars would even cover the cost of buying the necessary land.
Even so, Livingston residents told council members they want to see the money used to help extend Juban Road.
"For 14 years, this deal has been like a hockey puck. It's time to be done playing with this deal and to get something," said business owner Buck Jones, who told the council that his truck drivers often get stuck in traffic.
Beyond helping fix traffic, leaders and residents said they believed extending the road could allow for more businesses and thus more tax revenue.
"Overlaying the street, what has that got us?" said one resident "It makes someone happy, but it didn't bring any more tax dollars or businesses into our parish."
A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. September 24 in the parish council chamber.