Folks weigh in before BTR enhancement plan lifts off

Folks weigh in before BTR enhancement plan lifts off
Changes could be on the way for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (Source: WAFB)
Changes could be on the way for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (Source: WAFB)
Changes could be on the way for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (Source: WAFB)
Changes could be on the way for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many people got another opportunity on Thursday, January 25 to weigh in on a potential plan to enhance one of the runways at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport at a meeting at Saintsville Church.

"I live in the area and I look at anything that's going to happen in the north Baton Rouge area. I look at it as being a positive, so maybe this is the beginning of something positive for our area," said Sonya Clark.

The project is more than a year in the making and would bring enhancements to one of the runways there, while aligning with new standards that call for more room for planes to land. "The purpose of this is the project itself, it's safety related," Ralph Hennessy, interim director of aviation for the BTR airport.

As part of the process, a portion of Plank Road would have to relocate roughly a quarter of a mile east. "It would start on the north end of the turn just south of the All-Star Chevy North and loop back around and tie into Hooper Road," said Hennessy.

At stake are property owners who live along the stretch of busy roadway might have to move or sell. Bishop Alphonso Denson, who represents Saintsville Church, says they have been there for more than a decade and giving up a piece of their prime real estate would be tough. "It was an advantage to have this property and so it's something we're going to have to really look at in determining what we'll do," said Denson.

Hennessy says not everyone living there would have to sell, but he believes everyone, including those who drive there every day, would be affected for a time. "We envision that taking all of 2018, with construction starting in 2019 and lasting for about a year or a year and a half," said Hennessy.

At the end of the day, it promises progress, but whether it's worth the inconvenience depends on which side of the argument you fall. "I'm just looking for something good to happen in north Baton Rouge and I hope this the beginning of it," said Carter.

"We'll have to speak with our people and our leaders and make the best decision on behalf of the people and the church," said Denson.

Thursday's meeting is expected to be the final opportunity for the public to weigh in on this issue, but it seems the debate over exactly will eventually happen is far from over.

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