BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Neighbors along Highway 431 are blaming a construction company that’s already been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for delayed road projects for new drainage problems in their neighborhoods.
Coastal Bridge was supposed to finish adjusting their work by January of 2017. They’d been tasked with shifting the lanes and shoulders along the sharp curve in the road to prevent wrecks.
The Department of Transportation and Development says the project was not officially finished until June of 2019.
The state levied daily fines against the company for the delay, but Coastal Bridge will continue to receive contracts from the state because Louisiana law prevents DOTD from rejecting the cheapest bid for construction work.
The legislature changed state law this session to create an exception for companies that engage in a boycott of Israel, but did not make any other, new exceptions that would prevent a repeat offender from landing contracts.
“The low bidder does low-quality work,” George Snyder, who lives along 431 in St. Amant, said.
Snyder and other neighbors say that Coastal Bridge promised to leave their yards and ditches better than they were before construction began.
Instead, they say the company left divots and low spots in their yards that prevent them from mowing. Where they filled the holes, the neighbors allege the company used low-grade dirt containing rocks that rip through lawnmower blades.
“They came and visited, we all walked it,” neighbor Lisa L’Huillier said. “They had a lost of the complaints that were supposed to be fixed. No one came back to see if they were done.”
The neighbors also say Coastal filled in at least one small drainage ditch, and that the shoulder is so steep along the road that they cannot clear their other drains.
“Our ditch holds water when it didn’t use to,” L’Huillier said. “It used to stay dry. It stays mostly wet now.”
They also say the company did not dredge and straighten the ditch, so water pools along angled edges instead of flowing unimpeded.
“We all pay taxes for this, so it needs to be done right,” neighbor Thomas Lanoux said.
WAFB left a message for Coastal Bridge, but has not heard back.