Youngsville this week filed a lawsuit against the engineering firm that designed and oversaw construction of Chemin Metairie Parkway Phase I, a 2.6-mile, two-lane stretch that started failing after it was opened in 2008.
The suit, filed Wednesday against C. H. Fenstermaker and Associates LLC, seeks damages and attorney fees associated with repairs on the parkway, which was designed for a 10-year lifespan. Repairing the parkway has so far cost Youngsville $1.7 million and is likely to cost the city another $1.7 million for repairs on “known deficiencies” that have been identified in other sections of the road, the suit states.
“We paid for a 10-year design life. We got a 1-year. It’s that simple,” Mayor Ken Ritter said Friday.
Fenstermaker CEO and President William H. Fenstermaker said Friday that he stands behind the work of his engineers. “There are no design problems on the highway,” he insisted.
Chemin Metairie Parkway Phase I, which runs south from La. 92 then swerves east past the Youngsville Sports Complex to La. 89, has been a headache. It’s been surface-patched and deep-patched, its asphalt shaved and relaid. The section between La. 92, near Rouses Supermarket, all the way to Detente Road was completely torn up and reconstructed.
“During the periods of repair work, the Parkway was closed to traffic and this caused much disruption and adverse impact to citizens, businesses and schools throughout the entire city, not just those who used this parkway, as other streets and roads had to bear the load of the diverted traffic,” the suit states.
Youngsville officials believe more repairs will be needed between Detente Road and Guillot Road.
Youngsville contends in the suit that Fenstermaker was responsible for the design, preparing the bid documents, and monitoring and inspecting the work done by contractors. Fenstermaker engineers failed in those duties, the suit alleges.
William Fenstermaker, however, touted the business activity that’s sprouted along the parkway.
After the road was built, Ascension Episcopal School settled in along the parkway, joined by a string of businesses including Rouses, CVS and Twins Burgers, all built within a short distance from Sugar Mill Pond, an upscale residential development.
And the Sports Complex, completed in 2014 and located on the side of Chemin Metairie Parkway, regularly draws thousands for tournaments.
“It is unfortunate that the city of Youngsville has chosen to file this suit,” Fenstermaker said in an email. “Hopefully it doesn’t cost the citizens of the city too much because the roadway was built to the standards that they could afford at the time. We stand behind the work of the professionals that engineered the roadway and are happy with the economic development that it has created for the city. Once the facts are aired, I hope that the people who live in this great community will see the value that has been created and give our engineers the credit that they deserve for being a contributor to Youngsville’s success.”
In the mid-2000s, when planning and construction started, Youngsville didn’t have the $12 million needed to build a road with a 20-year design life. The 20-year plan called for 9 inches of asphalt. Instead, the city had only enough money — $7 million — for a road with 4 inches of asphalt. At the time, city officials were told Chemin Metairie would last 10 years.
That proved untrue.
During one lively Youngsville council meeting in 2014, Fenstermaker engineers said a contributing cause for the quick deterioration was more heavy-load trucks traversing the road than was anticipated.
Ritter on Friday said high traffic was not the reason the road has failed. “We were told there were too many heavy trucks, but I believe C.H. Fenstermaker misinterpreted their own traffic study,” Ritter said in a news release. “Based on their own study, and one that we conducted ourselves, we have less traffic and less heavy truck traffic than anticipated and for which the road was designed.”
Fenstermaker disagreed: “The truck traffic far exceeded the normal traffic count.”