New updates on Lee Drive leave residents concerned

City leaders say the 35 million dollar project on Lee Drive could take away some residential property.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:43 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:45 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - City leaders say the 35 million dollar project on Lee Drive could take away some residential property.

Developers are finalizing the plans for Lee Drive, hoping to alleviate some of the traffic for drivers, and those who live around the area.

“For me, I feel like this is something that needs to happen. The traffic on Lee is really bad, and at least once a week or two or three times a week there’s an accident,” explains Amy Fine who lives off Lee. Fine loves living in the Southdowns Neighborhood, but she hates the bumper-to-bumper traffic, and constant wrecks.

The Move EBR Project will widen Lee Drive, starting from Highland to Perkins, to create a three-lane roadway. The project will also include bike lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks. However, a project of this size will need space and could take away some homeowners’ property space.

“We know that it’s important for the people and, quite frankly, there may be some places we may have to buy people out because of where the house is and close proximity of the project. The appraiser, may say, ‘hey, this may be a total buyout,’” explains Fred Raiford who is the director of the drainage and transportation for EBR.

Raiford says some neighbors’ yards could be impacted by the widening. “In the residential area, we are probably looking at 40 pieces of property and some will be very small. Some at the intersections could be pretty sizable, but that’s what we haven’t finalized at this point,” adds Raiford.

WAFB spoke with those who live around the area.

Sam Russell who rents a house off Lee Drive says, “So, after speaking with my friend’s parents, who own the house, I feel like they are most concerned with the property being taken away from them. That could affect the market value of the property and the future as well,” explains Russell.

While some homeowners are upset about the widening project chipping away at their property, others feel like this project needs to fix traffic and drainage. Under the Lee Drive project, utilities will have to be moved around. Developers say they also plan to address a lot of the drainage issues throughout the area.

“Sunday, I had to call my landlord and tell them that I had to leave my house with my dog because I was worried that the house was going to flood,” explains Fine.

Fine believes the project needs to move forward because she’s more concerned about losing her house to a big rainstorm than having a part of her front yard possibly taken away.

City leaders and developers say they will meet with property owners this year, to let them know if a piece of their property will be needed.

City leaders expect to officially start construction on the project in 2025.

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